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News Release

MRI services reach a milestone at Fort St. John Hospital

December 01, 2017

Northern Health leaders and staff in Fort St. John joined with the Peace River Regional Hospital District, the Fort St. John Hospital Foundation and the Hospital Auxiliary today to mark a milestone in diagnostic imaging services in northeast B.C. The new MRI unit at Fort St. John Hospital has now performed its first 300 exams.

“This milestone means that hundreds of residents of Northeast B.C. have been able to receive important diagnostic imaging services closer to home,” said Northern Health Board of Directors chairperson, Colleen Nyce. “This is a key aim of our overall strategy to help improve access to medical imaging technology in northern B.C.”

The new MRI unit at Fort St. John Hospital went into service in late September, following approximately 5 months of construction, and equipment testing. The unit is expected to do approximately 2,000 scans in its first year of operation.

The Fort St. John MRI project was one of three MRI installation projects across the Northern Health region in 2017, including a new MRI at Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace, and a replacement unit at the University of Northern BC in Prince George. Together, the new units triple the number of MRI’s in the region, improving access and wait times and bringing services closer to home for residents across the north.

“The Regional Hospital Board is pleased to see this milestone reached,” said Peace River Regional Hospital District Chair Brad Sperling. “MRI is an important service to have in our region, and the Board welcomed the opportunity to support this expansion of medical imaging in the Northeast.”

Funding for the $2.6 million Fort St. John MRI project came from:

  • Ministry of Health (Province of B.C.) - $1.36 Million
  • Peace River Regional Hospital District - $1.04 Million
  • Fort St. John Hospital Foundation - $150,000
  • Fort St. John Hospital Auxiliary - $50,000

"The addition of equipment like the MRI to the Fort St John Hospital is important to residents of Northeast B.C., saving patients time and money and reducing wait times for diagnostic imaging procedures,” said Chris Maundrell, Chair of the Fort St. John Hospital Foundation Board. “It’s another step in enhancing patient care and comfort in the Fort St John Hospital, and the Foundation and its donors are thrilled to have been able to support this project.”

An MRI is a valuable test for medical professionals that use a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make pictures of organs and structures inside the body. Muscles, ligaments, cartilage, and other joint structures are often best seen with an MRI. In many cases MRI gives information about structures in the body that cannot be seen as well with an X-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan.

Northern Health’s 10-year medical imaging plan to help improve access to medical imaging technology in northern B.C. also includes the implementation of the Provincial Breast Health Strategy, which has recently seen state-of-the-art digital mammography units installed at hospitals in Quesnel, Dawson Creek, Smithers, Terrace and Prince Rupert.