Patients will be more comfortable when they undergo scans with a $2.8-million magnetic resonance imaging machine being installed at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.
The cost of the new machine is shared between Island Health, which pays 60 per cent, and local taxpayers, through the Regional Hospital District.
Western Medical Contracting is installing it.
The new MRI system from Siemens Healthcare will replace an MRI scanner that was installed at NRGH in 2002.
It has a larger opening for patient comfort and faster electronic processing to reduce exam times, which expands MRI imaging capability.
"The new MRI system will provide improved image quality and enhance capability for imaging in fields such as neurology and cardiology," said Dr. John Mathieson, medical director of Island Health Medical Imaging.
It will be less stressful for patients, too.
"What's hard for people with (the) MRI is there is claustrophobia," said Leanne Webb, Island Health medical imaging manager, Central North Island.
Currently, if a patient experiences a medical emergency while undergoing an MRI, there is no way to quickly remove the patient from the machine.
"This one has a dockable table, which means it just removes and we can un-dock it from the machine."
It can support heavier patients than the machine it replaces.
Later this month, a crane will be used hoist the 4.8-tonne machine into place, which will affect parking at the Emergency entrance. From Oct. 29 through Nov. 5, temporary dialysis and on-call doctor parking stalls will be available elsewhere on the NRGH property.
The new MRI is expected to be in operation by early December, after a two-week training session for technologists and radiologists.
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