MRI drive seeks Grey’s help

County coun­cil will con­sider re­quest for $400,000 over two years dur­ing bud­get ses­sions

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - FRONT PAGE - DE­NIS LAN­GLOIS

The or­ga­ni­za­tions rais­ing money to buy and in­stall a new state-ofthe-art MRI ma­chine at the Owen Sound hospi­tal have al­ready col­lected more than $1 mil­lion in pledges and cash to­wards their $4.7-mil­lion cam­paign goal.

“We’re on the way to get­ting a new MRI, so hope­fully it will hap­pen in the spring of 2019,” Amy McKin­non, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Owen Sound Re­gional Hospi­tal Foun­da­tion, told Grey County coun­cil dur­ing a com­mit­tee of the whole meet­ing Thurs­day.

Grey County was asked at the meet­ing to con­trib­ute $400,000 over two years to­ward the fundrais­ing drive. Bruce County coun­cil re­ceived the same re­quest last week.

Both coun­cils are plan­ning to dis­cuss the ap­peals dur­ing bud­get de­lib­er­a­tions for 2019.

All five Grey Bruce Health Ser­vices hospi­tal foun­da­tions – Owen Sound, Saugeen Memo­rial, Meaford, Cen­tre Grey and Bruce Penin­sula – are work­ing to­gether to raise the money for the MRI ma­chine to re­place the 14-year-old scan­ner at the Owen Sound site.

McKin­non said the foun­da­tions are plan­ning to launch the pub­lic cam­paign next week. That’s when the com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing lo­cal busi­nesses and res­i­dents, will be for­mally asked to con­trib­ute.

McKin­non said it will cost about $2.7 mil­lion to pur­chase the re­place­ment ma­chine, $1.5 mil­lion to fi­nance ren­o­va­tions for the new equip­ment, $300,000 to re­fur­bish cur­rent equip­ment and $200,000 for fundrais­ing ex­penses.

Dr. Colin McIver, GBHS’s chief of med­i­cal imag­ing, said the hospi­tal cor­po­ra­tion’s cur­rent MRI ma­chine – pur­chased with money from an $8.3-mil­lion com­mu­nity fundrais­ing cam­paign in 2004 – is one of the old­est in Canada.

It is used about 11,000 times an­nu­ally, mostly to take im­ages of the head, spine, knees, shoul­ders, pelvis, ab­domen, breasts, an­kles, hips, wrists and hands.

Although the ma­chine’s mag­net is still in good con­di­tion, the me­chan­i­cal com­po­nents of the MRI have reached the end of their lives, he said. The hospi­tal is find­ing it more and more dif­fi­cult to find re­place­ment parts, he added.

“It’s like an old car where the en­gine block is good, but not much else is on the car,” he said.

“We think that un­less we re­place the MRI in a rel­a­tively timely fash­ion, there’s go­ing to be a cat­a­strophic fail­ure and we’ll be with­out MRI ser­vices.”

He said the cur­rent ma­chine can no longer ac­com­mo­date peo­ple who are 300 pounds or more, which forces “a lot” of pa­tients to travel to other cities like Lon­don, Hamil­ton or Kitch­ener-Water­loo to re­ceive a scan.

GBHS is hop­ing to be able to pur­chase the new MRI ma­chine in the first quar­ter of 2019 and have it op­er­a­tional by June, he said.

The new scan­ner will have faster imag­ing times – the av­er­age test will be 10 min­utes shorter – which will help to re­duce wait times.

It will also have a more spa­cious ta­ble and tun­nel, fea­ture 3-D imag­ing, new soft­ware for car­diac and prostate imag­ing and en­hanced breast imag­ing for biopsy and de­tec­tion, pro­vide bet­ter-qual­ity im­ages and be more en­ergy ef­fi­cient, quiet and ac­cu­rate.

GBHS says MRI machines have di­ag­nos­tic ca­pa­bil­i­ties for can­cer, early de­tec­tion of ALS and forms of de­men­tia, stroke, coro­nary is­sues and mon­i­tor­ing aneurysms, di­a­bet­ics and pa­tients with blood ves­sel prob­lems.

McIver said the hospi­tal cor­po­ra­tion has sub­mit­ted a re­quest to the Min­istry of Health and Longterm Care to be able to build a sec­ond MRI suite next to the ex­ist­ing one, so the cur­rent ma­chine can re­main op­er­a­tional un­til the new one is ready to use.

The old ma­chine could then be used for “low-end” scans, like for knees and an­kles, he said, while the new scan­ner would do high­end imag­ing.

If the re­quest is de­nied, GBHS might have to rent an MRI ma­chine for a few months to en­sure there’s no down­time while the new scan­ner is be­ing in­stalled.

Grey County do­nated $1 mil­lion to the 2004 MRI cam­paign. It also con­trib­uted $1 mil­lion over five years to­wards the $11.4-mil­lion Hospi­tal Cam­paign, which launched in 2014 and was aimed at im­prov­ing can­cer care at the GBHS hos­pi­tals. The county paid its fi­nal $200,000 in­stal­ment to­wards that drive in June.

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment doesn’t pro­vide fund­ing for equip­ment at On­tario hos­pi­tals. It will, how­ever, con­tinue to pay for the MRI sys­tem’s op­er­at­ing costs, such as those re­lated to staffing.

Do­na­tions to the MRI cam­paign can be made on­line at www. gbhsmri.ca.

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