MRI scans have become vital diagnostic tools for hospitals around the world. Without exposing patients to radiation, MRI scans can show more precise detail and differentiation between the soft tissues of the brain, muscles and heart than CT scans or X-rays.
Demand for this technology at Mackenzie Health in Richmond Hill, Ontario, has made the addition of a second machine necessary. Leasing a mobile MRI unit is an innovative solution to continue to maintain patient volumes, while the hospital completes the purchase, renovations to the space for the second permanent MRI and its installation.
“MRI is an invaluable study to aid in the diagnosis of many medical conditions,” says Dr. Peter Stroz, Medical Director, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Program and Chief of Medical Imaging at Mackenzie Health. “This addition of a second permanent MRI will allow our healthcare team to continue to make timely and accurate diagnoses. This will assist in getting patients on the correct treatment path and assist in a more rapid recovery for our patients. ”
Although the demand for this test has increased dramatically in recent years, continuous process improvement initiatives and additional funding have enabled the organization to reduce wait times to be well under the provincial and LHIN targets.
In April 2012, the hospital leased a second temporary MRI, offering more flexibility. “Having two scanners enables the hospital to book exams at more convenient times for patients,” says Cindy Draycott, the hospital’s Operations Director, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Program. “We no longer run the MRI 24 hours a day. Patients are booked from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., avoiding inconvenient middle-of-the-night appointments. Another advantage is we always have a scanner available in the event that the other requires maintenance.”
Maintenance for an MRI scanner is more complex than for many other diagnostic machines in a hospital. During this time, an MRI scanner can be off-line for numerous hours. Having a second scanner allows the hospital to continue to provide timely MRI scans, without having to re-book patients to future date.
Located in a mobile unit outside of the hospital’s Emergency Department, the temporary MRI operates seven days a week and is used primarily to scan ambulatory or mobile patients.
MRI technology is advancing
An MRI scanner uses powerful magnets, radio frequency fields and computers to construct 2D and 3D images of the body. The new second permanent magnet will be a 3 Tesla (3T) MRI. This magnet has advanced imaging capabilities and will help provide physicians with clearer and more detailed scans, enabling accurate diagnoses. Certain MRI examinations can be completed more quickly with a 3T magnet, enabling the hospital to also increase patient volumes and decrease wait times.
In order to maintain two MRI machines at the hospital, Mackenzie Health Foundation has launched “Picture This,” a fundraising initiative for the second, permanent MRI. The campaign has reached $3.9M toward the $5M goal.
With the addition of a second MRI, patients will continue to be able to remain closer to home to access this crucial test.