First-ever MRI imaging device for Mills Memorial Hospital arrives in 2017, adding to regional diagnostic services for the region. (File photo)

Radiology improvements boost regional patient care

A new CT machine at Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace expected later this year and a first-ever one to be placed at Bulkley Valley District Hospital in Smithers, also this year, will continue to change the landscape of diagnostic services for the region, says a senior Northern Health official.

The new CT machine for Mills is a welcome replacement for a 2006 model now obsolete and needs to be replaced while the one for Smithers means patients in that region will no longer have to travel here, says Dr. Jaco Fourie, the health authority’s northwest medical director.

“The CT here is on its last legs,” he said of the one in Terrace.

And although Terrace is going to get a badly-needed $380 million replacement for Mills with accompanying patient services improvements, the CT machines are an indication that services for the region won’t be concentrated exclusively at the new hospital.

“This is not a hub and spoke model. What this is is a community of services, utilizing the services at the other hospitals,” said Fourie in describing the work underway.

Diagnostic imaging for northern residents was also boosted by the installation of an MRI machine in Terrace in 2017.

READ MORE: CT machine approved for Smithers

It’s a far different situation now than existed just several years ago when the work of one radiologist stationed at Mills was brought into question, prompting a wholesale examination of radiology services — and who provides them — not only in Terrace but elsewhere in B.C.

That report, commissioned by the provincial health ministry, in the matter of Dr. Claude Vezina, recruited to Mills Memorial in Oct. 2016, followed a 10 per cent discrepancy rate, double the accepted norm, found in CT, x-ray and ultrasound image interpretations.

Vezina went on voluntary leave in Jan. 2017 and, according to Northern Health, his privileges were “terminated” in late 2017.

The provincial report looked into all aspects of training, recruiting and quality assurance here and elsewhere, often finding gaps.

“The [Terrace] incident highlights multiple failures to effectively share information, between physician leaders themselves, and between physician leaders and regulators — both medical affairs departments in their role as the physician-regulatory part of the health authority and also the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. and regulatory colleges in other jurisdictions,” wrote report author Dr. Martin Wale of the B.C. Medical Quality Initiative which works to improve health care in the province.

Since then much has changed, said Fourie, thanks to a culture put in place which emphasizes ongoing peer review and a collegial atmosphere in which radiologists can ask questions about each other’s work.

“We now have a rock solid system — reference checking, quality assurance,” he said. “It’s a real solid process.”

READ MORE: Terrace MRI hits milestone

Fourie also noted that the one radiologist at Mills, Dr. Elliot Rapp, has vastly reduced the wait time for scan interpretations required by physicians.

“Under his leadership we now have images the same day,” said Fourie in adding that new technology which now produces digital images, which can be viewed anywhere in the world, instead of ones on film has helped drive the improvements.

A group of radiologists based in Vancouver has also been hired, meaning that interpretations are available consistently and constantly, said Fourie.

“I can tell you this has been tremendously successful. Our radiology has never been this robust. It’s beyond anything we’ve ever had before.”

Having that kind of coverage means that although recruitment of a second radiologist in Terrace is ongoing, having one here isn’t absolutely crucial, said Fourie.

“Ultimately the goal is to get a radiologist in Smithers. That person could be here first and then basically progress to Smithers and from there, could cover both sites,” he said.

The CT machine for Smithers is being financed through an extensive campaign by the Bulkley Valley Health Care and Hospital Foundation (which included a substantial donation by former Telkwa mayor Fritz Pfieffer), by the provincial government and the Northwest Regional Hospital District.

The provincial government and Northern Health are financing the new CT machine in Terrace.

Just Posted

Judge rejects Terrace man’s claim that someone else downloaded child porn on his phone

Marcus John Paquette argued that other people had used his phone, including his ex-wife

Another winning weekend for Terrace River Kings

Two more wins on home ice added to undefeated streak

UPDATE: Highway 51 reopens briefly

All-wheel drive vehicles are permitted from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday

GALLERY: Remembrance Day services in Terrace

Residents surrounded the cenotaph at City Hall Nov. 11

Terrace RCMP investigating suspicious death of a man in Thornhill

Kamloops resident was found unresponsive early Sunday morning, died hours later

‘We love you, Alex!’: Trebek gets choked up by ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant’s answer

The emotional moment came in Monday’s episode when Trebek read Dhruv Gaur’s final answer

Birthday boy: Pettersson nets 2 as Canucks beat Predators

Vancouver ends four-game winless skid with 5-3 victory over Nashville

Petition for free hospital parking presented to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould

What started as a B.C. campaign became a national issue, organizer said

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

B.C.’s high gasoline prices still a mystery, Premier John Horgan says

NDP plans legislation this month, seeks action from Justin Trudeau

Group walking on thin ice at B.C. lake sparks warning from RCMP

At least seven people were spotted on Joffre Lakes, although the ice is not thick enough to be walked on

VIDEO: Don Cherry says he was fired, not sorry for ‘Coach’s Corner’ poppy rant

Cherry denies he was singling out visible minorities with his comments

B.C. teacher suspended for incessantly messaging student, writing friendship letter

Female teacher pursued Grade 12 student for friendship even after being rebuked

Disney Plus streaming service hits Canada with tech hurdles

Service costs $8.99 per month, or $89.99 per year, in Canada

Most Read