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New MRI coming to Nanaimo

New MRI coming to Nanaimo

July 31, 2019 at 10:13 am  BC, News, Politics

The B.C. Surgical and Diagnostic Imaging Strategy continues to make progress, as construction is underway on Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s (NRGH) second MRI machine.

Patients in the central Vancouver Island area will benefit from increased access to MRI exams and shorter wait times when the second MRI machine opens in spring 2020.

“People in Nanaimo are already benefiting from the B.C. Surgical and Diagnostic Imaging Strategy launched last year by government,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Through this strategy, Island Health performed 28% more MRI exams in 2018-19 compared to the previous year, including 11,264 scans at NRGH. This $5.5 million investment to add a second MRI at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital will make it easier for people to access to this important diagnostic tool when they need it.”

Expanding the number of MRI suites on Vancouver Island is a key part of the diagnostic strategy, as is fully utilizing existing machines to increase volumes again this year. A total of 49,346 scans were performed across Island Health in 2018-19. At Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, 11,264 scans per performed, nearly 2,000 more than in 2017-18.

In 2018-19, wait times for Nanaimo Regional General Hospital in the 50th percentile decreased from 70 days to 34 days, and wait times at the 90th percentile decreased from 166 days to 76 days. This was achieved in part due to increasing the volume of MRIs, done 24/7 at the hospital in the last year

The total project cost is $5.5 million, with $3.3 million provided by the Province of British Columbia through Island Health and $2.2 million provided by the Nanaimo Regional Hospital District. This investment builds on the recently announced first MRI for Langley Memorial Hospital to open in summer 2020, the second MRI installed at Surrey’s Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre in May, and the purchase of two MRI community clinics in Abbotsford and Surrey last year.

The B.C. Surgical and Diagnostic Imaging Strategy launched in March 2018 and through the strategy’s first year (2018-19) performed 233,369 MRI exams provincewide. This is a 23% increase over the 189,376 exams performed in 2017-18.


Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan – 

“I am thrilled that we are making good on our promise to the people of Nanaimo and mid-Island to improve the health-care services they rely on. With today’s announcement, we’re making sure that patients and the fine people that work in the hospital have the equipment and ability to serve their community to the very best of their abilities. This is great news for everyone.”

Sheila Malcolmson, MLA for Nanaimo – 

“Mid-Island residents have been eagerly waiting for improved access to MRIs, and we’re proud to be able meet their needs with today’s announcement. This shows that we are committed to serving residents on the Island and help them get the diagnostics and then the appropriate treatment so they can go back to enjoying and living their lives to the fullest.”

Leah Hollins, board chair, Island Health – 

“We thank the Province and the Nanaimo Regional Hospital District for investing in this project that will not only benefit our patients, but also help our staff and medical staff continue to deliver the quality of care we can all be proud of to our patients who need it.”

Ian Thorpe, chair, Nanaimo Regional Hospital District and Regional District of Nanaimo

“The Nanaimo Regional Hospital District Board is extremely pleased to see the commencing of the new MRI suite at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and proud to contribute 40% of the funds required for this important community project. This addition is a much-needed tool to improve access, promote and enhance the well-being of our residents.”

Dr. John Mathieson, medical director for medical imaging, Island Health –

“This means patients are receiving potentially life-saving procedures and test results faster. That has a significant and positive impact on patient care.”

James Sweet, MRI patient at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital –

“I was very surprised when I was told it was going to be at 1:15 a.m. When they called me [with the appointment time], I was told that the initiative to run the MRI 24 hours had reduced the wait-list. It reduces the wait-list down from months to a week, or less than a week in my case. I was in and out in 15 minutes, and the MRI technician was pleasant and efficient. I have absolutely no complaints. Good for Island Health to run the MRI for 24 hours. I think it is well worth it.”

Quick Facts:

  • Island Health is expected to perform approximately 50,000 MRI exams in 2019-20.
  • A new, state-of-the-art 3T MRI magnet is expected to be installed at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria in October 2019.
  • An MRI exam is one of the tools used to diagnose a number of medical conditions, including abnormalities of the brain, as well as tumours, cysts and soft-tissue injuries in other parts of the body.

Learn More:

To learn more about the B.C. Surgical and Diagnostic Imaging Strategy, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0010-000460

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