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Campaign to refurbish MRI machine more than half way to goal

Pictured with the MRI machine at QHC Belleville is technologist, Lisa Potter. Cathy Sharland photo.

Pictured with the MRI machine at QHC Belleville is technologist, Lisa Potter. Cathy Sharland photo.

Area residents are well on their way to ensuring vital services of a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine remain available locally.

In a statment from the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation, the County’s portion to be raised for the refurbishment of the unit at Belleville hospital has exceeded $100,000 of its $170,000 commitment. The largest donation of $50,000 was presented by the hospital’s auxiliary just before the holidays, collected from community supported fundraising including the Festival of Trees and the Auxiliary Thrift Shop, downtown Picton.

The regional MRI has reached the end of its lifespan and all the working parts, including the computer and software, but excluding the magnet, must be replaced at a cost of just over $1 million.

A surge in patient volume and operational hours resulting in increased wear and tear is the reason for the upgrade. MRI volumes within Quinte Health Care (QHC) increased by 30 per cent over the past four years. Last year, more than 9,000 patients had MRI exams at QHC Belleville – 1,300 of those from Prince Edward County.

The Re-Imagine Campaign was launched Sept. 29, 2016 as a joint fundraising initiative to keep the diagnostic service available for Quinte Health Care (QHC) hospitals. The campaign is a co-operative effort between the Belleville General Hospital Foundation, the Trenton Memorial Hospital Foundation, North Hastings Fund Development Committee and the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation.

Originally installed at QHC Belleville in 2008, the regional MRI took more than 9,290 images last year. The wait times to access the machine are among the best in the province – at nine days while the provincial target is 28.

“Medical equipment is expensive and has a short lifespan. Unlike many medical costs, equipment is not funded by the government; it is expected the community finances the replacement of equipment through the work of hospital foundations,” said Penny Rolinski, PECMHF executive director. “The upgrade will improve the image quality with enhanced imaging to diagnose smaller abnormalities. Scanning time will be faster and quieter. The patient table is moveable with better ergonomics thus improving safety for those with mobility issues.”

The average scan takes 20-60 minutes. During this time, several dozen images may be obtained. These images assist radiologists in making a diagnosis and may eliminate the need for biopsy or surgery.

“MRI is the only diagnostic imaging technology that can “see” through bones. In fact, when it comes to getting images of soft tissues – that’s fluids, blood and blood vessels, nerves, organs, etc. – it’s the best technology there is,” said Rolinski. “It is the fastest and safest, non-interventional way to get the clearest pictures of your internal body structure.”

She noted MRI has become a preferred method for diagnosing potential problems in many different parts of the body. While x-rays are best for showing bones, MRI creates pictures that can show differences between healthy and unhealthy tissue – like organs, muscle, ligaments and tendons in many parts of the body. That means MRI is helpful when looking at the brain, spinal column, breast, abdomen, pelvic region and joints like knees and elbows.

“Rather than just relying simply on patient’s symptoms, the radiologist may be able to immediately see the specific source of a physical problem. In trained hands, the MRI discovers tumours that might have been missed before. It detects aneurysms, neural and spinal conditions, and diagnoses illnesses. It does all this without biopsies or exploratory surgery.”

“The MRI upgrade is like a new set of glasses, a bigger magnifying glass, a stronger telescope – so we can look with a finer focus into the body and see more, to find, diagnose, and treat illnesses and help patients get back on the road to health,” said Dr. Emma Robinson, chief of radiology at QHC.

For more information, or to make a donation to the Re-Imagine Campaign to refurbish the MRI machine, visit or call 613-476-1008 ext. 4425.


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