East Kootenay to get permanent MRI Machine

East Kootenay will be getting a new full-time MRI machine after years of temporary service.

Getting a diagnosis for an injury can be a time-consuming process no matter where you live. First, doctors may recommend an X-ray or CAT scan in hopes of finding the problem. If that is unsuccessful, they could order an MRI, but that could take up to eight months to come through. That’s a long time to wait in pain, no matter the predicament.

Thankfully for those in the Columbia Valley and East Kootenay, Health Minister Terry Lake and Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett announced last week a $5.3 million investment in a permanent MRI machine for the East Kootenay Regional Hospital located in Cranbrook.

“With this announcement, we continue to build on the long list of investments that have made East Kootenay Regional Hospital a world-class facility,” Bennett said in a press release last week. “Our priority is to give staff and physicians the tools they need to provide excellent care right here in Cranbrook.”

Funding most of the bill for the new diagnostic imaging system will be the Ministry of Health and the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District, which are each contributing $2 million, while the East Kootenay Foundation for Health and the Cranbrook Health Care Auxiliary are committing to fundraise $650,000 to cover the remaining $1.3 million. The MRI is estimated to become permanently in operation sometime in 2018.

Last year, according to Health Minister Terry Lake, the revamped provincial MRI strategy saw significant increases in scans across the province, including a 20 per cent increase in the East Kootenay Region Hospital alone. Under the current strategy, MRI testing for East Kootenay residents is done through a shared mobile MRI unit that comes to Cranbrook approximately once a month. Once the new MRI machine becomes operational, East Kootenay residents will have consistent weekly access to scheduled MRI tests.

Dr. Keith Weber from the Chisel Peak Medical Clinic in Invermere said this enhancement will have a profound impact on those needing alternate scans to X-rays and CAT scans.

“If you’re suffering from back problems or shoulder problems and shoulder pain, it is often an 8-month waitlist to get an MRI done and that’s a long time to suffer through these pains,” he said, noting that people frustrated with the wait often elect to pay massive sums out of pocket for private scans in hopes of avoiding the delay.

“We use it quite sparingly because it is such a limited resource so it would be nice to have that a little more available to us.”

Weber said that oftentimes the injuries of people who are on the waiting list for an MRI end up being resolved or stabilized before the scan date actually arrives. With the long wait times, it’s imperative they try alternative methods like physiotherapy before ordering the more drastic MRI scan.

“You don’t want to just start ordering tests the first time you meet someone in anticipation that they’re not going to be better in eight months,” he said.

The motivation, Weber said, behind improving access to MRI scans is that MRIs are both safer and more informative than other scanning methods because of their ability to scan soft tissue damage.

“Ideally, I would like to use an MRI more than other imaging because it doesn’t have that same radiation exposure,” he said, noting other methods are scientifically proven to be linked to diseases like lymphoma and leukemia. “If I had a choice personally to have an MRI versus a CAT scan of my chest, I would rather have an MRI because it’s much safer.”

Weber said he anticipates that the new MRI machine could decrease wait times to as short as one to four months once implemented, a colossal improvement over the current waiting period.

Essentially, Weber said, the new MRI system will give physicians a more diverse array of options when treating injuries in the future and that’s good news for ailing patients across the East Kootenay.

Just Posted

The end of an Echo
The end of an Echo

Invermere Valley Echo shuts down operations in Columbia Valley

Creating a new narrative for Canal Flats

Economic development consultant hired, lists vision for next 90 days

Princeton wildfire phots courtesy of Debbie Lyon.
UPDATE: Crews battle as wildfires rage in B.C. Interior

Crews brace for another day on B.C. firelines as no let up is likely

VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers
VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers

Wildfires continue to engulf regions of B.C.’s forests and communities.

Aerial view south of Williams Lake Friday afternoon shows dry lightning storm passing over, leaving fire starts behind. Lightning sparked more than 100 new fires Friday. (Black Press)
VIDEO: More than 180 wildfires burning across B.C.

Firefighters from other provinces called in to assist

DTSS Grad March 2017
DTSS Grad March 2017

DTSS Grad March 2017

59 cats seized in Chase
59 cats seized in Chase

59 neglected and injured cats were seized from a property in Chase

(Flickr/Andreas Eldh)
Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell dead at age 52

The singer/songwriter passed away early Thursday morning in Detroit

Paying tribute to a primeval passage
Paying tribute to a primeval passage

Uninterrupted celebrates the Adams River sockeye run in an extraordinary way.

UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds
UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds

In the past, the music festival located in Pemberton drew large crowds last year of 180,000 fans

Photo by: WeissPaarz.com
Medical wait times cost B.C. patients $2,300 each

New Fraser Institute report places B.C. at second worst in costs associated with long wait times

UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert
UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert

Witnesses reported hearing two loud bangs coming from near the arena’s bars at about 10:35 p.m.

A university study finds that about nine per cent of Canada’s Grade 11 and 12 students – roughly 66,000 teens – have driven within an hour of drinking and 9.4 per cent drove after using marijuana.                                 Photo: Now-
Leader file
One in three Canadian high school students have rode with drinking drivers, study reveals

Nearly one in five rode with a driver who’d been smoking pot

Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records
Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records

A lower court judge ruled to destroy the stories after 15 years unless consent is given to preserve

Most Read