New mobile MRI to ease pressure on Nanaimo facility

The Vancouver Island Health Authority will establish a mobile MRI service by next spring or summer to serve Comox, Campbell River, Port Alberni and Duncan.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority will establish a mobile MRI service by next spring or summer to serve Comox, Campbell River, Port Alberni and Duncan.

The service will take pressure off facilities in Nanaimo, Victoria and Vancouver.

It will be located on specially designed pads in each location, operating 50 weeks per year with two weeks designated for service and maintenance.

“This is something that I’ve been pushing hard for all the six years that I’ve been the medical director in VIHA,” Dr. John Mathieson said at a Thursday announcement in Comox.

“From a patient care point of view, I and my colleagues feel very strongly that wherever you live you should expect to have the same quality of medical service.”

Upwards of 3,800 MRI scans are planned to be performed by the mobile scanner, amounting to 16.5 per cent of the 23,000 MRIs provided each year in the region. The volumes and schedule in each community will be determined based on population size and historical MRI use.

“Cross-sectional imaging, including MRI, CT and ultrasound, have completely changed the practice of medicine,” Mathieson said. “Back in my father’s day, if anyone wanted to know what was wrong if you were sick, they had to open you up … That doesn’t happen any more. MRI has become an amazing tool. The development and technology has been truly astonishing.”

Without the opportunity to practice in the field of MRI, Mathieson said it is difficult to attract radiologists to Vancouver Island.

“We continue to believe that MRI is an underused service and needs to be expanded, and I’m glad there’s so many people willing to listen,” he said.

– Black Press