MRI scanner installed at new health centre

  • Into place: JJ Soares smiles as a new MRI scanner is installed at his HMC-Burnaby Urgent Care & Medical Imaging clinic on Burnaby Street (Photograph supplied)
  • Photograph supplied
  • Photograph supplied
  • Photograph supplied

A new MRI scanner at a soon-to-open health clinic will be an asset to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, the centre’s medical director said yesterday.

JJ Soares explained: “We see our new MRI as a way to support the hospital, particularly during busy times. We are also here to offer patients same-day service for MRI and other imaging procedures without having to leave Hamilton.”

Dr Soares was speaking after the new state-of-the-art MRI was installed at the HMC-Burnaby Urgent Care & Medical Imaging clinic, on Hamilton’s Burnaby Street.

A spokeswoman for the centre said the timing of the new MRI installation was “apt, given the hospital’s budget cuts and the subsequent diagnostic imaging guidelines issued in summer 2019”.

The new guidelines for the hospital, which came into force in July, doubled the maximum allowed waiting time for routine medical imaging services from three to six weeks. New imaging services triage guidelines said the move to a $330 million government grant, instead of a fee-for-service arrangement, had forced an end to weekend overtime in the scanning services unit if the waiting list for routine procedures was over the three-week limit.

The document, dated July 14, added that, at the time of writing, there was a four-week wait time for routine MRI scans and two weeks for routine CT scans at the hospital.

A spokeswoman for the Bermuda Hospitals Board said: “The BHB MRI service ensures those who need an MRI urgently have it done right away.”

She added: “Current wait times for those who do not need an MRI urgently are between two and three weeks.”

The new 34,000-pound MRI was installed under the supervision of a team of experts from the United States on Monday night. The spokeswoman said the new Hitachi unit provided “the best resolution for imaging and therefore allows for more accurate medical diagnosis”.

She added that MRI machines did not produce radiation.

Dr Soares said the “truly open” MRI unit had been in the works for four years.

He added: “What I’m most looking forward to is being able to offer MRI services to patients who may be claustrophobic or who prefer the idea of an open MRI.”

Dr Soares said the set-up would allow other people, such as parents or caregivers, to be in the room when procedures were conducted.

He added: “I think that will bring a lot of comfort to patients.”

The spokeswoman said the new scanner, scheduled to go on stream this spring, would offer diagnostic imaging services “comparable to the hospital”.

She added that the services would be available to patients on a walk-in basis, seven days a week, with appointments as late as 10pm each day.

Dr Soares said: “People lead busier and busier lives and we’re looking forward to offering same-day and next-day service at times that are convenient to the public, without the need for lengthy wait times or appointments. It’s the way of the future for medical services.”