Guelph General Hospital’s new MRI machine a ‘big leap forward’

A new MRI machine is coming to Guelph General Hospital (GGH) this fall, providing enhanced imaging quality and increased space for patients. 

The hospital’s current magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine is set to be taken offline next month, with the new one expected to be up and running in November. In the meantime, a temporary one will be brought in and set up in a trailer.

“It’ll help our staff see the images better and provide more accurate, improved diagnosis. … We’re taking a big leap forward with this new machine,” said Gavin Webb, GGH’s chief information officer and vice-president of finance, noting the $3.9 million needed for the machine, installation and supportive upgrades (utility lines, cooling, lighting, etc) is being covered by the Foundation of Guelph General Hospital’s ‘Together We Care’ fundraising campaign.

“We’re grateful for the generous contributions of our community. It’s made this replacement project possible.”

The new MRI will take up roughly the same amount of floor space as the current one, Webb said it comes with improved imaging quality, including artificial intelligence capabilities, as well as a larger opening for patients to be put inside.

“It provides a little bit more space for people who experience claustrophobia and also allows larger people to go through the MRI,” Webb said, noting the device’s opening will be 10 cm larger than the current one. 

Software upgrades will also make scans quicker to complete in some instances.

The hospital’s current MRI is 16 years old and at the end of its expected life cycle, said Webb.

“I think 16 years is about the right time before we start seeing an increase in down times and need more maintenance,” said Webb. “We want to make sure that we’re delivering the service as much as we possibly can and we want to avoid any inconvenience in the future.”

About 12,000 patients receive MRI testing every year at GGH.

The new device is set to arrive in September, with a temporary one brought in between the time the current one is taken out of service and the new one is up and running. That temporary machine is slated to show up on July 4.

During the foundation’s annual general meeting on June 19, it transferred nearly $10.5 million to GGH, beating out the previous record of $5.7 million transferred a year earlier.

Most of that money comes from the Together We Care campaign. The provincial government provides operational funding but no dollars to purchase hospital equipment.

“We set out to raise $20 million for our community’s hospital, but we quickly realized that we needed to set our sights higher to meet the growing need for healthcare,” said Linda Hasenfratz, who initially spearheaded the campaign in 2017, in a news release. “In the end, we launched the public phase of the campaign during the height of COVID, and along with my co-chairs Susan Frasson and Rob Wesseling, we were thrilled to raise $37.5 million in support of the hospital. 

“Even more thrilling, however, is this moment, when our community gets to benefit from the special care nursery and the updated MRI in the months to come.” 

About $6 million of the transfer will be put toward upgrading the special care nursery. Renovations are underway now, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony planned for September.