The Ontario Government on Friday afternoon announced it will provide funding for a new MRI machine for the Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital (PSFDH).
"I'm so proud on behalf of (Health) Minister (Christine) Elliott to announce that the government is providing the funding envelope for Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital to have an MRI machine for the first time," which will deliver critical services to patients, said Steve Clark, MPP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Clark announced that the government has committed to providing the annual funding to support a new MRI machine for PSFDH.
Under a formula similar to that being used in Brockville, locals will raise funds to purchase the MRI machine, while the province has committed to providing annual funding to operate it.
"By providing hospitals with annual investments to support net new MRI machines, our government is helping to ensure that these vital services are available to patients now and in the future," Elliott said in a prepared statement.
The new MRI services in the Perth and Smiths Falls region will make it easier for patients to receive the care and diagnostic imaging they need, closer to home.
"This is going to save thousands of trips to the city…over the next number of years," said Gardner Church, PSFDH chairman.
Funding for the new imaging machine is part of the government's $30-million investment in the 2021 budget to support MRI services for patients and add new MRI machines to hospitals across the province, provincial officials said.
"On behalf of our community, our staff, physicians, volunteers and most importantly, our patients, I want to thank the province of Ontario for the confidence you've shown us today in our hospital," said PSFDH president and CEO Michael Cohen.
The total project cost, including renovations, is estimated at about $5 million at this time. Because of disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospital is taking a conservative approach with a goal of having its first patient using the MRI machine in about 18 to 24 months' time, said Cohen.
Cohen said in a prepared statement that the investment of the MRI technology in the hospital will allow patients faster access to care while being closer to home. The addition of the MRI machine will also provide primary care providers better access to support patient needs and will enhance services that PSFDH offers to the community.
"No matter whether you live in a big city or a small rural area like we do, we should have access to the same services; we have tremendous people at our hospitals and they need all the tools that are available to them and today our government recognized that and provided the tools," said Clark.
Over the last 10 years, the demand for MRI services has increased by approximately four per cent annually while wait times worsened. Fifty-four per cent of cases were completed within target wait times in 2013/2014 and more recently, 39 per cent of cases were completed within target in 2019/2020, officials said.
"This was a great Christmas gift to the residents of our area," said Clark.
(Jessica Munro is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)
Jessica Munro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times