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Options for medical scans increase

Mobile MRI unit could ease travel time for patients

Residents of Powell River who are in need of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans now have a different option.

Since October 2012, a new mobile MRI has been operating on Vancouver Island which allows residents in Comox Valley, Campbell River, Duncan and Port Alberni better access to “the latest in medical imaging technology.”

MRI is used to take images of organs and tissues inside the body. Physicians are able to view the detailed internal structures of the body which helps doctors diagnose many types of injuries and medical conditions.

“The mobile MRI is a great benefit for patients and [Vancouver Island Health Authority]VIHA is pleased to bring this service to these and neighbouring communities,” said Don Hubbard, VIHA board chair. “Most patients will be able to receive their scans in the mobile unit therefore reducing the need for patients to travel to larger centres for diagnostic testing.”

The service is open to residents of Powell River and so far some local doctors have taken advantage of the service for their patients, according to Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH).

“MRI service is provincial, so someone from Powell River could get an MRI on Vancouver Island,” said VCH spokesperson Anna Marie D’Angelo. “It’s up to the doctor to give the patient a referral for wherever they want to get the MRI scan done.”

The mobile unit is in each community for one to two weeks and moves to the next community over a weekend. The unit sets up on a specially designed pad at each site—West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni, Campbell River Hospital in Campbell River, Cowichan District Hospital in Duncan and St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox.

It will operate 50 weeks a year, with two weeks set aside for annual maintenance. During that time the unit will do approximately 3,800 scans. It will cost VIHA $1.4 million in annual operating costs.

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