Nanaimo residents won’t need to wait as long for an MRI.
The provincial government announced this week that work has begun on adding a second magnetic resonance imaging machine at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.
The new MRI machine is expected to be operational by April 2020. The entire project will cost $5.5 million, with $3.3 million funded by the province and $2.2 million provided by the Nanaimo Regional Hospital District.
Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health, who made the announcement on Wednesday in front of NRGH, said a second MRI machine will benefit the entire community.
“This is a significant step forward for the Nanaimo region,” he said. “It shows our determination, not just to have made changes we’ve made to maximize the use of MRI machines, but to continue to provide better service at this hospital.”
According to the Ministry of Health, a total of 11,264 MRI scans were performed at the Nanaimo hospital in 2018-19, which is an increase of roughly 2,000 from the year prior. Dix said wait times have been reduced at NRGH largely because of increased use of the existing MRI machine, which now operates on a 24/7 basis, over the last year.
“At the 50th percentile, meaning half the wait times were faster and half were slower for MRIs, [NRGH] went from 70 days to 38 days. At the 90th percentile, the longest wait times, we went from 166 days to 76 days,” he said.
Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson said the expansion of existing MRI services at the hospital have already made a big impact on people’s lives in Nanaimo and that a new MRI machine will be even more beneficial.
“The work that we are trying to do as a government is make changes that are implemented and acted and are in action early enough that people can see the difference in their lives,” she said. “This isn’t just a change in policy, this is a change on the ground.”
Coun. Ian Thorpe, who is also chairman of the hospital district, said the MRI unit is “very much” needed and will benefit the entire region.
“We often refer to the building behind me simply as the Nanaimo hospital, but let’s not forget that it is in fact a Nanaimo regional hospital, serving the entire region and the population of our region is growing tremendously, meaning that increased demands are being put on our local health care system,” he said. “The regional district board greatly appreciates the continued provincial support for needed upgrades to the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, to ensure that this facility can grow and continue to support our community adequately.”
The announcement is part of the B.C. surgical and diagnostic imaging strategy, which aims to reduce wait times and better utilize existing machines and equipment.
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