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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Ken Winnig, Regional Director of Diagnostic Services, Northern Health gave an update to City Council yesterday on the MRI machine that will be placed in Fort St. John.

“We know we need to do a better job of identifying some of the access gaps and to bring the service to the Northeast. We know that a number of patients leave B.C. and they go to Grande Prairie. We know patients travelling to Prince George is awfully far for that scan, so we are addressing that.”

Winning says based on calculations, they believe they will be doing around 2100 scans a year to first start the service.

Northern Health first looked at the need for MRI back in 2012. They then launched a 10-year medical imaging plan. They also had a new plan launched this year that is aimed at providing medical care closer to home.

They are now in the stage of putting together schedules and looking at installation dates for the machine to be installed in FSJ. The unit, which is a Siemens Magnetom Aera – 1.5T, is expected to be implemented by Spring 2017. It has been roughly 14 years since Northern Health has bought a MRI magnet.

3 scanners will be installed. One in Fort St. John, one in Terrace and one in Prince George.

A request for proposals was issued and Siemens was awarded the contract to install the machines. The production lines for the machine are located in Germany and the machines are made to order. The vendor, which is SDI, is currently organizing staff for installation which is why they are looking at Spring for the machine to be installed and ready to go.

To provide staff for the MRI machine, they took 2 x-ray technicians from Fort St. John and 2 x-ray technicians from Terrace and put them through BCIT’s program. Those students are currently in practicum.

Northern Health says once SDI provides a firm schedule, they will announce the final dates for installation and starting dates for use of the MRI machines.

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