Gatineau Hospital's new MRI expected to ease strain on Ottawa
Outaouais lagging far behind Quebec's wait time target for diagnostic scans
The Gatineau Hospital will soon get the region's newest MRI machine, giving patients in western Quebec who need the diagnostic scan another local option, and potentially easing the strain on Ontario's health system.
Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann made the announcement Wednesday morning ahead of a Coalition Avenir Québec caucus meeting in the Outaouais.
"There is a need for the population of the Outaouais, specifically at the Gatineau Hospital," McCann said.
The region falls well short of the province's wait time target of 90 days for an MRI scan.
On average, only 40 per cent of Outaouais residents are able to get a scan within the 90-day window, short of the province-wide average of 71.6 per cent.
MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging, and uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create an image of a patient's organs and tissues. An MRI scan can play an essential role in the early detection and treatment of cancer.
"The Gatineau Hospital is a centre for cancer treatments, so it's rather important to have an MRI," McCann said.
The new MRI will cost roughly $6 million to install and operate, McCann said, and is expected to be up and running by late 2020 or early 2021.
Currently, there's only one MRI in the region, at the Hull Hospital, which is expecting a second machine shortly. The MRI at the Gatineau Hospital will be the region's third.
Easing strain on Ontario
Private MRI clinics are an option for those who can afford it. Quebec patients can also pay up front for an MRI in an Ontario hospital, then be reimbursed by their own province's health insurance program.
According to McCann, close to 7,000 Quebec patients currently cross into Ontario each year for an MRI scan. Once the region has all three machines up and running, officials expect that number to drop by about 75 per cent.
"We're very pleased because this is access for the population of the Outaouais," McCann said.
While Wednesday's MRI announcement was warmly welcomed by public health advocates in the Outaouais, one group said more equipment is still needed.
"This is a good sign," said Andrew Gibson, president of Santé Outaouais 2020. "But we also highlighted that we are one of the only cancer centres in Quebec without its own stereoscopy radiology and imaging equipment, to better detect tumors."
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