Manitoba Health has given a stamp of approval to the MRI services at the Maples Surgical Centre in Winnipeg – but the issue of charging patients a fee remains unresolved.
At a meeting Friday afternoon, the provincial health department gave its approval for the clinic to provide magnetic resonance imaging services to patients in non-insured circumstances, such as the Worker's Compensation Board, the RCMP and the military.
The Maples clinic began offering the diagnostic tests in December to anyone willing to pay the $700 fee.
Government officials initially registered disapproval, saying the clinic was charging patients for an "insurable" service – one that, under the Canada Health Act, must be provided by the public health-care system.
"From an MRI perspective, the facility is accredited with Manitoba Health," Mark Godley, one of the clinic's owners, said Friday.
"What that means in the short term is that Workers Compensation Board patients will be able to receive their services effective tomorrow."
The Worker's Compensation Board had reached an agreement with the clinic to provide MRIs to injured workers, but shortly after the clinic began providing the service, WCB officials backtracked, saying the board would not send clients to the clinic for MRIs until Manitoba Health had given its approval.
Provincial officials and the clinic's owners plan to meet again soon to discuss what to do with insured patients – those whose MRIs would be covered by Manitoba Health.
Manitoba Health spokesman Winston Maharaj says the meeting was exploratory, but he's confident progress has been made.
"Certainly the purpose was to communicate the approval of the MRI for the non-insured as well as the conditional approval for insured, and discuss where there may be some possibility of exploring bringing down wait times as long as it's within the principles that we've outlined."
Those principles include accountability to Manitoba Health and to patients as well as not poaching staff from the public sector to the private sector, he said.