N.S. to add four new MRIs
HALIFAX – Nova Scotians will receive MRIs more quickly
and closer to home as a result of four new MRI machines. Premier John
Hamm announced the government’s plan to expand and improve MRI services in
Nova Scotia by installing the devices in Kentville, Antigonish, Yarmouth
and New Glasgow.
“This is a major step on the road map to reduce wait times and improve
health care,” said Premier Hamm. “This fall, I indicated that new
federal health money Nova Scotia received through the First Ministers’
Meeting would be spent on health, particularly to reduce wait times. As
a government, we are keeping our word.”
Expanding the MRI capacity in Nova Scotia was one of the top priorities
cited in Your Health Matters – the government’s plan for better health
care, released in 2003.
Three MRI machines are currently located in Halifax, and one in Cape
Breton. These four publicly funded scanners provide service to 950,000
people in Nova Scotia – a ratio of one scanner to 235,000 people. New
Brunswick has one scanner for 150,000 people, the best ratio in Canada.
The additional four machines will see Nova Scotia move to a number one
ranking with one scanner for 117,500 people.
“With these new machines, Nova Scotians will have access to double the
number of MRIs,” said Health Minister Angus MacIsaac. “We are building
more capacity in our rural areas, with a commitment to replace equipment
in Halifax as our next priority.”
MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. An MRI can make detailed
three-dimensional images of the body’s soft tissues.
In recognition of rapidly improving and evolving technology, the
province is allowing health districts to decide if the new generation of
multi-slice CT scanners, rather than MRIs, would better suit their
needs. The IWK Health Centre will purchase one of these CT scanners to
support services for children and women.
Over the next few months, the four district health authorities will work
with the Nova Scotia Department of Health to purchase the equipment and
to develop service guidelines for their use. Renovations and recruiting
radiology technicians will also be a priority.
The funding for this equipment will be shared 75/25 by the provincial
government and the communities in which they will be located.
The province’s portion, estimated at $2.5 million per unit (including
purchase and installation), is being taken from Nova Scotia’s share of
funding arranged through the First Ministers’ Meeting Accord. Nova
Scotia is receiving $62 million for 2004-05. Ongoing operational costs
for each service location are estimated at $750,000 per year.