Gatineau Hospital's new MRI expected to ease strain on Ottawa

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.

Outaouais lagging far behind Quebec's wait time target for diagnostic scans

The Gatineau Hospital's new MRI machine is expected to be in service by as early as next year, Quebec's health minister said Wednesday. (Diane Grant/CBC)

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.

Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann said a new MRI machine coming to the Gatineau Hospital will mean fewer Outaouais residents will need to visit Ontario for a scan. (Christian Milette/Radio-Canada)

Diagnosing cancer

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.

Andrew Gibson, president of Santé Outaouais 2020, said while he's pleased the Gatineau Hospital is getting its own MRI machine, more equipment is still needed for Gatineau to catch up to other regions of Quebec. (Radio-Canada)

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."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?