Construction started last week on the space needed for the first-ever MRI unit at Mills Memorial Hospital.
At a project cost of $2.87 million, it’ll be some months yet before the actual device arrives and workers are now preparing space on the hospital’s upper floor which had been mainly used for storage.
“Have patience with us. We’re under construction,” said Suzanne Campbell, a senior Northern Health Authority official responsible for the hospital.
“It’s exciting but difficult and we’re working through it.”
With the MRI originally set to be in service this spring, the new date is now July, a revision that occurred as purchase proposals were received and evaluated.
The contract to not only provide the device but to prepare the space has gone to Siemens Healthcare, a multinational technology provider. Work underway extends to ensuring the hospital’s infrastructure can handle the increased power demand from using the MRI.
No new employees will be needed and two existing technologists finished their training in January.
As with other major capital expenditures in this region, the North West Regional Hospital district is paying for a portion of the cost through property taxes and the provincial government and the Northern Health Authority is picking up the remainder.
MRIs use a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to create pictures of organs and structures inside the body.
As such, images from an MRI are considered superior to CT scans, x-rays or ultrasounds as they province better images of muscles, ligaments and joint structures.
The Northern Health Authority had originally planned to buy a mobile MRI unit to travel between Terrace and Fort St. John but it was convinced to buy two fixed units because of advancing technology and price changes.
The Mills MRI unit will relieve northwestern patients of the expense and time needed to travel outside for the service.
Prince George rounds out the list of MRI purchases and its new unit arrived in February and is already in use in a temporary location while a permanent space is being readied.