Elected officials and stakeholders were invited for a tour of the region’s new $2.9-million MRI unit in Terrace today. Northern Health hosted the small, celebratory event at Mills Memorial Hospital to mark a milestone of the diagnostic imaging device’s 500th exam.
“Five-hundred people is not just a number, that’s 500 people in the Northwest who have been able to receive this important diagnostic service with less travel, and to receive it sooner than they would have before,” said Northern Health’s Northwest chief operating officer Ciro Panessa.
After a short round of speeches a cake commemorating the 500th exam was cut and shared around the room.
The event was held also in honour of North West Regional Hospital Board’s commitment to the project, to which it contributed $1.13 million of the total cost.
“This hospital is really a regional hospital and we’re proud of the board’s success on this,” board chair Harry Nyce said. “We’re partnered with the Queen Charlotte Regional District and the Bulkley Valley Regional District, and those directors also worked hard to…get the machine here and find the resources to do it.”
After five months of construction and equipment testing, the unit went into operation in late August this year. It is expected to run roughly 2,000 scans within its first year of operation.
“I’m proud to say over the past few months we’ve had a tremendous impact on patient health throughout the Northwest, all the way from Houston to Haida Gwaii,” said radiologist Dr. Elliot Rapp. “Everyday we diagnose things like brain tumors and liver masses and ligament damage. Previously this process would take months if not years due to high barriers of access and travel…in order to get these diseases diagnosed that we’re now able to do right here in Terrace.”
Terrace’s MRI project is one of three within the Northern Health district, which includes a new unit at Fort St. John Hospital and a replacement unit at the University of Northern BC Prince George. “It’s effectively tripled our capacity for MRI procedures across the North,” Panessa said. “But most importantly it’s brought this service much closer to home for residents in the Northwest.”