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N.B. invests $3 million in mobile-MRI unit

BATHURST – A new $3-million mobile-MRI unit has been acquired to serve patients in three New Brunswick regions – the Restigouche Health Authority, the Acadie-Bathurst Health Authority and the Miramichi Regional Health Authority.

From the back of a transport truck, the MRI team can scan patients for problems in their bones, joints and organs.

Health Minister Brad Green took part in the launch event, held in April. Also taking part were Patricia Talbot, member of the board of directors of the Restigouche Health Authority; chair Gabriel Godin of the Acadie-Bathurst Health Authority; and chair Patrick Finnigan of the Miramichi Regional Health Authority.

“This new mobile MRI replaces an 11-year-old unit, is much more powerful, and will provide enhanced quality of diagnostic images and the ability to offer more services within the regions,” said Green. “For example, the three regions can now perform cardiac and advanced breast imaging, services for which patients previously had to travel to other areas to receive.”

“The Restigouche Health Authority is extremely pleased with the new mobile MRI,” Talbot said. “This enhanced technology allows us to do diagnostic examinations not previously provided in Health Region 5, which means patients will no longer have to travel outside the region to obtain these services. The quality of the images produced by this unit and the time reduction to do an examination will definitely make the service more efficient.”

“This investment in high technology demonstrates the government’s desire to improve access to health services in northern New Brunswick,” Godin said. “With the added capabilities of the new MRI unit, our physicians will no longer have to refer patients to outlying areas for certain procedures,” Finnigan said. “The new MRI service will allow even more patients to remain in their
communities for this important diagnostic service.”

MRI technology is used for a range of medical-diagnostic purposes, provides clear, state-of-the-art images of soft tissues such as internal organs, and is ideal for spine and joint problems.

Green said government has worked hard since June 1999 to expand and enhance MRI coverage around the province.

In addition to the new mobile unit, there are MRI units at the Dr. Georges-L. Dumont Regional Hospital in Moncton, The Moncton Hospital and the Saint John Regional Hospital, as well as a mobile unit shared by regions 3 and 4.

Plans call for a fixed-MRI unit to be located at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton by 2007, which will allow the existing mobile unit that now serves the Chalmers hospital and the Edmundston Regional Hospital to be used exclusively by the Edmundston hospital and the new hospital under construction in Waterville.

In 2004-05, $6 million was invested in operating costs for MRI units in the province, which provided almost 25,000 MRI exams.