GBGH getting closer to bringing MRI services to local community
Adding magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) services at Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) requires an addition to be built on the existing Diagnostic Imaging department. Renderings of the expansion demonstrate how the new portion will seamlessly coordinate with the front of the current building.
October 18, 2023 – Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) is several steps closer to bringing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) services to the hospital, expanding access to these important diagnostic procedures for the community. The hospital recently received approval for stages 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 of its MRI plan. Later this month, GBGH will submit stages 2.1 and 2.2 together to the Ministry of Health in an effort to expedite the approval process and begin construction sooner on an addition to the existing hospital which will house the future MRI.
The 2,500 square foot expansion has been designed to seamlessly fit within the front of the hospital’s existing façade, sharing architectural elements with the Emergency department which was redeveloped in 2018, and original main entrance. GBGH aims to begin construction on the expansion during the first half of 2024.
“GBGH’s building was constructed in 1976, long before it was determined an MRI would ever be available in Midland,” says Matthew Lawson, president and CEO, GBGH. “We don’t have the physical space to accommodate the MRI in our existing Diagnostic Imaging department so after careful consideration of what is the lowest cost option with the fastest construction timelines, the decision was made to build an expansion. We have been proactively working with architects and engineers so we are ready to begin construction as soon as possible. We know the process of adding a new service of this scale and scope takes time, but MRI services are much-needed in our community. We don’t want to delay access for our patients now that we’re well into the approval process.”
In addition to the hospital planning ahead for construction by conducting geo-technical drilling to determine the foundational supports needed for the building, and finalizing detailed architectural and mechanical plans, training for the new equipment has also begun. GBGH is already preparing staffing to be ready for MRI operations. The hospital has hired a medical radiation technologist qualified in MRI and has an existing staff member already undergoing comprehensive education to operate the MRI. Ideally, GBGH hopes to perform its first scan in the first quarter of 2025, which would make it approximately two years from approval to being operational.
GBGH initially applied for an MRI in 2022 as part of the hospital’s ongoing strategy to grow its services in alignment with community needs. In February 2023, representatives from the provincial government visited GBGH to announce the hospital will receive $800,000 in annual operating funding. This enables GBGH to run the MRI for 2,000 hours per year – or eight hours per day, five days a week – which will meet the needs of an estimated 2,000 local patients. Given the increasing demand for these services, GBGH estimates it could eventually double the number of hours it is running.
GBGH’s future MRI will not only serve the hospital’s immediate community, it will assist in adding capacity to the system which reduces wait times across the region. The addition of an MRI in the hospital’s Diagnostic Imaging department will reduce wait times as area residents can be seen in Midland, making more appointments available at local hospitals for patients located in neighbouring communities.
Since receiving initial approval for these services at GBGH, the hospital Foundation has been fundraising to purchase the equipment and help fund construction for the MRI. With a goal of raising $4 million, the Foundation has already been successful in nearly reaching the half-way point of $2 million. This has been possible through generous support from community contributions and the recent Power of Giving Gala which raised $654,000 for the MRI.
“The feedback from our community has been absolutely amazing,” says Katie Houston, chair, GBGH Foundation Board of Directors. “So many people have been impacted by MRI technology, and truly understand the value of bringing this service to GBGH. We have had such incredible support from individuals, businesses, community groups and organizations, and we are excited to see the construction get underway.”
Director, Communications & Community Relations, GBGH
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