Middlesex hospitals getting first MRI machine with $800K budget boost

The Middlesex Hospital Alliance is getting a $800,000 boost to its annual budget from the provincial government to operate its first magnetic resonance imaging machine.

MPP Monte McNaughton is expected to announce the funding for the alliance that oversees Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital in Strathroy and Four Counties Health Services in Newbury on Friday.

The two hospitals “have been around for decades and decades, so this is big news for our local community,” said McNaughton, who represents the riding of Lambton-Kent-Middlesex and also serves as minister of labour, immigration, training and skills development.

With the addition of the MRI machine that scans the body’s interior to help detect diseases and injuries, patients won’t have to wait as long to be diagnosed or travel to nearby cities for such imaging.

“What this means for local residents is that access will be improved. There will be faster screening,” McNaughton said.

“But most importantly,” he added, “this will be done closer to home. It really will be life-changing for people.”

The addition “will result in local access to what is widely considered the gold standard of diagnostic imaging,” added Middlesex Hospital Alliance board chair Catherine Osborne in a statement.

Friday’s announcement is part of $20 million in additional funding from the Ontario government to support the operations of 27 MRI machines in hospitals across the province.

Though the alliance is responsible for buying the MRI machine, the health ministry has approved its use and will pay for the machine’s operation annually, McNaughton said.

“This will be an annual increase in the hospital’s base budget to operate an MRI machine, and the local hospital is preparing to purchase it,” he said.

Health-care funding for rural hospitals has increased in the last five years and has been a priority for the provincial government, McNaughton said.

“It’s also about levelling up Ontario," he said. "Whether you live in rural, northern (Ontario) or in big cities, everyone should have access to health care. And this announcement of a first-ever MRI machine for the Middlesex Hospital Alliance will achieve just that in our community.”

cleon@postmedia.com

twitter.com/CalviatLFPress

Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press