Construction for second MRI to begin on July 30

News / General
By Meaghan Quinn

Partnerships across the region will help meet patient demand for MRI scans during construction

You might start hearing some extra noise around the Diagnostic Imaging department of the Kingston Health Sciences – Kingston General Hospital site in the upcoming week’s as construction will begin soon for a second MRI scanner.

“We are thrilled about moving forward with this initiative which will dramatically shorten wait times for patients waiting for complex MRI studies required for diagnosis and treatment planning,” says Karen Pearson, Director of Imaging Services at KHSC. “A second MRI scanner will be a huge help in our ability to continue to offer outstanding patient care.”

On Monday, July 30 construction will begin around the Diagnostic Imaging department at the KGH site in preparation of the second MRI scanner. This phase of construction will include preparing the roof area next to the current MRI scanner on the King Street side of the KGH site to house the second MRI scanner. This phase of construction is expected to last up to eight weeks and will result in the current MRI scanner operating on limited hours.

To help maintain patient flow and wait times, staff will be performing scans at the KGH site in the evenings and on weekends as well as adjusting appointments to accommodate urgent cases that arise. In addition, staff have worked with partners in our region to prepare them to expect increased numbers of referrals of patients who want to have the option to access their MRI scans at alternative locations. These partnerships will help keep wait times as short as possible for patients.

“We have already identified a number of patients whose scans don’t technically need to be performed at KHSC, and who will be given the option to travel to another location for their scan,” explains Kelly Hubbard, Manager of Imaging Services for KHSC. “These are patients who would be waiting four to six months here, or they could have their scan done with one of our partners earlier.”

For Chris Williamson, Medical Practice Manager at KMI X-Ray and Ultrasound, and one of the regional partners who will help with patient needs for an MRI, this partnership underscores the existing relationship that they have with KHSC.

“We have been helping with requisitions since 2012 to help the hospital maintain patient flow,” says Williamson. “The radiologists that we have are the same radiologists that patients would be seeing at KHSC so there is already ongoing collaboration in place and they are receiving the same level of care that they would expect at the hospital.”

This spirit of ongoing collaboration is echoed by Mark Coulter, Director of Diagnostic Imaging at Quinte Health Care, and another partner who will be helping with requisitions during construction of the second MRI. Helping one another meet patient demand and provide backup for an MRI scan is an established practice between the two hospitals already. Last spring for example, inpatient and emergency patients from Belleville were sent to KGH for their scans while QHC completed equipment upgrades to their MRI machine.

For patients who may be impacted by the MRI downtime at KGH, the decision is theirs to make with their physician if they would like to go to an alternative location for their MRI scan. Patients will still have the option to be referred to KHSC; however this may mean they will be visiting the hospital later in the evening than may be normal or waiting for a significant length of time.  

“This collaboration with our partners helps patients by ensuring wait times are kept as short as possible,” says Hubbard. “Even though it is a bit inconvenient right now, it’s exciting for the region because it means we are getting closer to having our second MRI built and installed.”

Following the heavy construction period, estimated to end late in September 2018, the current MRI scanner at KGH will be back to regular operating hours and the new MRI scanner will become operational in the spring of 2019. Full construction work and renovations on the support areas is estimated to be completed in the fall of 2019 without causing any further disruption to the current MRI scanner.

The purchase and installation of the second MRI scanner is a result of a strategic investment by Kingston Health Sciences Centre as well as from a campaign by our foundation, University Hospitals Kingston Foundation, that received significant community support.  At any one time in our region, 850 to 1,000 people are waiting to be booked for a hospital MRI. The more urgent cases are given priority on the current MRI, with less severe patients having to wait for their procedure. The installation of a second MRI will help make these wait times more manageable for patients and their families.