Lisa Rutledge, Cambridge Times Staff
As published in the Cambridge Times February 13, 2012
Equipment will be envy of neighbouring facilities
Not only will Cambridge Memorial Hospital soon become the new owner of a long-awaited MRI scanner, the hospital may just be the envy of other neighbouring hospitals.
Often described as the largest community hospital in southern Ontario without an MRI, Cambridge medical officials had been forced to send patients out of town to receive advanced diagnostic scans.
Now the new MRI, which offers the latest in advanced features and software, will be able to do what many other scans can’t – perform cardiac scanning.
“Cardiac imaging is very complex,” explained Dr. Ramu Popuri, chief of diagnostic imaging at Cambridge Memorial. “It needs the very best software.”
Up until now, Cambridge patients have had to go to London, or rely on the one-day-a-week time slots at Grand River Hospital to receive a scan. The result was long wait times.
Now, patients will be able to have scanning done locally, thanks to the purchase of the MRI and the construction of a custom-designed suite to house the unit. The price tag of the MRI and suite totals $4 million. Half of that cost has been raised thanks to a $1-million donation from the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation and gifts from the community.
Excitement is building for the new MRI, as construction for the 1,900-square-foot suite, being built at the northeast side of the hospital, is nearing completion and the first major components of the MRI have arrived. On Monday morning, the scanner’s large and powerful magnets arrived and were hoisted by a crane onto rails built to slide the highly sensitive magnet into place.
The magnet unit was ushered in by a team of work horses on loan from the International Plowing Match. The horse and wagon team, which led the delivery truck from the drive of the Galt Country Club to the hospital, was dubbed a display of advanced technology meets history and heritage.
It was cause for celebration for community members and volunteers who lined Coronation Boulevard, but especially for staff members like Popuri.
When he joined Cambridge Memorial several years ago, he and the small group of radiologists believed the purchase of an MRI was imminent, along with the then-approved capital expansion. Hopes were soon dashed, as all expansion and purchase plans were crushed under the hospital’s financial and political pressures.
Popuri said the radiology team could barely contain themselves when the Ministry of Health announced that Cambridge had the go-ahead to start the process of acquiring an MRI. They were high-fiving each other at the announcement, he recalled.
“They couldn’t keep the grins off their faces,” he said.
The MRI is expected to be operational 40 hours a week for at least the first year, but when scanning operations prove to be efficient, scans could run seven days a week, 24 hours a day.