Nova Scotia

2 new MRI machines coming to Dartmouth, Bridgewater hospitals

The province's Health Department says the MRI machines will be purchased and placed at the Dartmouth General Hospital and the South Shore Regional Hospital in Bridgewater in late 2024. Neither site currently has an MRI.

Goal is to have both machines up and running within 3 years

Renovations at the Dartmouth General Hospital include doubling the number of operating rooms from four to eight. The site will also now be getting a new MRI. (Michael Gorman/CBC)

Nova Scotia's Health Department will help establish two new MRIs at hospitals in Dartmouth and Bridgewater, although it will be three years before they arrive and are operating.

In separate news releases issued Wednesday, the department said the machines would be installed at the Dartmouth General Hospital and the South Shore Regional Hospital in late 2024. Neither site currently has an MRI.

Health Minister Leo Glavine said the need for the machines at the two sites was identified as part of major renovation work.

MRI needed to keep up with growing population

Dartmouth General is nearing the end of a $150-million renovation that's included adding four more surgical theatres and bringing dedicated orthopedic services on site.

Glavine said the upgrades, along with a growing population in the Halifax Regional Municipality, made adding the machine in Dartmouth an obvious decision.

"We should have one MRI for every 100,000 patients," he said. "There is now the need for an additional MRI based on the patient load that is here in HRM."

The South Shore Regional Hospital is undergoing a $113-million renovation. (Google Maps)

South Shore Regional Hospital in Bridgewater is also undergoing a major renovation to the tune of about $113 million. At the time of that announcement, the government said space would be created to allow for the eventual addition of an MRI.

Right now, patients in the area are most often travelling more than an hour to the Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville to get an MRI, something Glavine said is creating strain on services there.

"The valley now, for a non-urgent MRI, is the longest wait list in the province," he said.

The machines cost about $1.6 million each, said Glavine, and hospital foundations at both sites will fundraise toward the purchase price. The department is footing the bill for construction, installation and operational costs related to the new MRIs.

Patients may be diverted to Yarmouth

While staff wait for the MRI to arrive in Bridgewater, Glavine said he expects some people will be diverted from Valley Regional to the Yarmouth Regional Hospital, where the wait list for an MRI is shorter.

The provincial health authority allows for people on wait lists to choose to travel to a site farther away if there is an opening via cancellation or a shorter wait list.

"We are doing acceptable coverage, but knowing how the list is growing and the projection of need over the next several decades and, again, especially in conjunction with the aging boomer cohort, having these machines in place in a few years time is the goal," said Glavine.