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MRI Frequently Asked Questions

A series of questions and key messages regarding the MRI project specifically along with general hospital issues have been prepared to support conversations with current and potential donors. These questions and key messages will be updated to support the changing conversation with our community.

What is an MRI?

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a specialised imaging test that uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed 3D images of organs and structures inside your body. Healthcare providers use MRI to evaluate, diagnose and monitor several different medical conditions not visualized well with other imaging tests.

Why do we need MRI at PSFDH?

MRIs are typically seen as a regional program. PSFDH priority is to provide top-tier services to the extended Perth and Smiths Falls region. The MRI service will support a broader geographic area.

Why Is MRI Important?

This state-of-the-art technology is important because MRI scans illustrate more clearly than ever before, the difference between healthy and diseased tissue, and can provide important information about the brain, spine, joints and internal organs. It can lead to early detection and treatment of disease and has no known side effects. MRI technology at PSFDH will help to reduce wait times in the region, minimize patient and family travel – keeping care closer to home.

Not having this level of diagnostics at PSFDH can cause undue stress for patients due to additional pressures of coordinating appointments, travelling to possibly unfamiliar areas in the city, delayed testing, results and treatment. The MRI is also key in attracting and retaining healthcare professionals to our hospital and community.

How will it benefit the community?

MRI service brings care closer to home and raises the bar around access to advanced diagnostics. With advanced diagnostics comes the ability to improve the care provided at PSFDH and ease the patient and family burden of travelling to larger centres for services.
MRI technology allows PSFDH to support more specialized care that would not be possible.

What Is The Difference Between MRI And CT?

Both MRI and CT create cross-sectional images of the body. The main difference is that MRI uses a large magnet and radio waves to produce images where as a CT scanner uses ionizing radiation. The systems complement each other well as they both have their inherent strengths and weaknesses.

How much will it cost?

As the hospital’s fundraising partner, the Perth & Smiths Falls District Hospital Foundation is seeking the support of our community to raise the needed $6.1 million over three years to bring MRI technology to PSFDH. The cost for the actual MRI machine is $4.1 million.
In addition to the cost of the MRI are the $2.1 million costs associated with renovating space and installing the unit.

Will the MRI unit be accessible to all abilities (size/physical ability)?

The GE MRI can accommodate adult and paediatric patients. The MRI table weight limit is 250 kg/550 lbs so most patients can be accommodated and scanned. The only magnet able to accommodate larger patients is an open magnet but unfortunately these magnets limit the exam type that can be performed so it is not a consideration for a community hospital in Ontario.

The Smiths Falls site has the CT Scanner. Why is the MRI located at the Smiths Falls Site?

The Smiths Falls site was modernized just over 10 years ago so with a more modern infrastructure and ability to accommodate the large footprint needed for the MRI suite, the machine is now located at the Smiths Falls site.

I thought the MRI was already paid for by the Ministry? Why are you looking for more money?

The Province of Ontario announced in December 2022 that it will work to improve people’s access to diagnostic imaging services and reducing wait times by investing over $20 million in operating funding to support the addition of 27 new MRI machines in Ontario. Capital dollars – money to actually purchase and install the machine was not included in the money announced. This is a common approach where the government expects the community to raise funds for the purchase.

The PSFDH received permission from the Province of Ontario to proceed with the purchase an MRI machine for the community. This is why PSFDH and its fundraising partner, the Perth & Smiths Falls District Hospital Foundation are working hard to raise the much needed dollars to purchase the capital equipment item.

PSFDH uses agency nurses and not local nurses. Why would I support if the hospital uses agency nurses?

PSFDH continues to recruit and promote the hospital as the employer and organization of choice. 3 In the midst of a world wide shortage of front-line health care workers, it is true that PSFDH has utilized agency staff to keep our services open. Our ongoing recruitment efforts are reducing our dependency on agency services. We will continue these recruitment efforts to resume “home grown” staffing as soon as we can.

The Smiths Falls Site was recently redeveloped. Will Perth be renovated so as to accommodate similar state-of-the-art technology such as CT Scanner and MRI services?

The redevelopment of the Smiths Falls Site was completed in 2010 and so the infrastructure there can accommodate MRI services. In addition, the aging infrastructure at the Perth side is such that it cannot appropriate existing space to accommodate MRI technology. However, plans are underway for a major renovation and/or redevelopment of the Perth Site of the PSFDH. If PSFDH’s initial request is approved by the Ministry, PSFDH will develop plans to redevelop to include future care and services in relation to our changing communities.

Given the difficulties in healthcare professional recruitment, how will PSFDH attract new staff to support the MRI operations? What is the recruitment plan for MRI Techs?

PSFDH has secured a full time Senior Lead MRI technologist and a second full time MRI trained technologist. We have two interested MRI trained part time/casual technologists as well.

I am concerned that people outside of our community will start booking appointments here at PSFDH as wait times may be shorter then in the city. Will local residents/patients be given priority over MRI services over out-of-town patients?

Similar to the triage process in the Emergency Department, the Diagnostics Imaging Team (DI Team) receives all requisitions and will be evaluated by the Radiologists based on level of urgency. The DI Team always sets aside time to support inpatient and urgent requests and priority will not be given outside of the clinical triage process. If you are concerned about the wait time for your appointment, please contact your primary care provider for more information.

Will MRI Services help to attract healthcare professionals?

Absolutely. It will assist PSFDH in recruiting and retaining health care professionals allowing us to expand our services to our community.

Having MRI technology is a huge incentive to attracting new healthcare professionals to our hospital and community. New grads and young health care professionals expect that they organization they join will have state-of-the-art technology such as advance diagnostics. Medical students and residents in training see MRI as an essential tool. Having the service in place is also a tool that will support our current highly skilled staff and professional staff.

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