PRETTY in pink, the securely wrapped MRI machine for Mills Memorial Hospital awaits being lifted through an opening June 28 on the hospital’s second floor. Jackie Lieuwen photo

MRI arrives at Mills Memorial

Skilled hands maneuvered machine through second floor opening

THE LATEST step forward to improve health care service in the northwest took place June 28 when a crane operator carefully lifted an MRI machine from a flatbed truck up to and then through an opening on the second floor of Mills Memorial Hospital.

At a total project cost of $2.87 million, including renovations, the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) unit will join another new diagnostic device, a SPEC CT, in the same renovated second-floor section.

Together the two units will provide physicians and specialists with the kind of detailed inner images of a person’s body that could previously only be had by travelling to Prince George or to Vancouver.

When ready for service later this summer, the MRI is expected to do several thousand scans a year.

As is the case with major capital expenditures, 60 per cent of the MRI project cost comes from the provincial government and Northern Health with the remaining 40 per cent being raised through property taxes by the North West Regional Hospital District which covers the area from Haida Gwaii to Houston.

The SPEC CT was delivered during the spring.

Northern Health purchased the MRI for here, one for Fort St. John and a third for Prince George through Siemens, a multi-national medical technology company.

Like Terrace, Fort St. John has never had an MRI unit before and the one in Prince George, which is already in service, is a replacement.

The original MRI plan had been to buy a new one in Prince George and then a mobile one which would travel back and forth between Fort St. John and Terrace.

But Northern Health officials last year said price drops and advancing technology made it feasible to increase the overall budget and buy fixed units for here and Fort St. John.