Midland hospital breaks ground for upcoming MRI expansion

Ground was broken at Georgian Bay General Hospital by politicians and dignitaries who were instrumental in securing a new MRI for the facility.

The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) unit requiring its own expansion onto the hospital is expected to meet the needs of roughly 2,000 local patients, with construction anticipated to complete this fall, and with the first patient scanned in early 2025.

At a ceremony to commemorate the first shovel in the ground, Simcoe North MPP Jill Dunlop told the crowd of roughly 100 attendees that approval to operate an MRI was announced by the province in 2023.

GBGH president and CEO Matthew Lawson told MidlandToday, “I think the importance for our community to have local access to these services is really critical. It’s not just 90 kilometres to travel for an MRI; it’s the time away from family and loved ones, and the cost of that.

“I think for our community, it’s a really important advancement, bringing services closer to home,” Lawson added.

Chief of diagnostic imaging Nick Lougheed called the groundbreaking “momentous”, adding that the thought of putting in an MRI just five years after his arrival to the hospital “would be unthinkable”.

“This is really going to transform the amount of service that we can provide here,” said Lougheed. “We’re really getting close to being able to offer every kind of diagnostic imaging service that you would get at any larger hospital, and it’s quite a bit for something of our size.”

GBGH board of director chair Tim Kastelic went off script to give Lawson and everyone involved a shout out.

“No one mentioned that there were 27 MRIs that were announced at the same time,” said Kastelic, thanking those who sped up the process.

Lawson told MidlandToday: “We’re really hoping this is the first one implemented in the province. We’ve been at a lightning pace to get this going and MPP Dunlop has been a huge advocate, pushing the Ministry of Health to get all the things approved.”

“The entire cost of the installation and the purchase is the responsibility of our hospital and our community,” said GBGH Foundation executive director Nicole Kraftscik. “In a little more than one year, our incredibly generous community has donated more than $2.4 million (of $4-million cost) to help make this project a reality.”

Editor's note: This story was first published on June 18. This version includes the total cost of the project.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca