Construction has begun on a new diagnostic testing area at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital. Interior Health photo

Construction has begun on a new diagnostic testing area at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital. Interior Health photo

Construction underway for MRI unit

Construction has officially started on a new permanent diagnostic testing area at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital.

Rendek Group of Companies was selected as the general contractor overseeing the construction of the new Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) space – an approximately 200 square metre (2,150 square foot) addition on the east side of EKRH adjacent to the intensive care unit.

Construction is expected to be complete in the spring of 2018, and the new MRI unit operational in the summer.

“We recognize the challenges residents face when they must travel to access health services. This permanent MRI will improve patient care by reducing the need for patients to travel or and will decrease the waiting time for an appointment,” says Interior Health Board Chair Dr. Doug Cochrane. “The permanent installation in Cranbrook also allows the mobile unit to be deployed for additional testing elsewhere in Interior Health.”

Currently, East Kootenay residents receive MRI testing at a shared mobile MRI unit that comes to East Kootenay Regional Hospital for one week every four weeks.

The total investment for the new MRI, which covers the cost of the machine and the renovations to EKRH, is $5.65 million. The Ministry of Health through Interior Health is contributing $2.21 million and Kootenay East Regional Hospital District (KERHD) $2.14 million to the MRI project, with the East Kootenay Foundation for Health (EKFH) and the Cranbrook Health Care Auxiliary covering the remaining $1.3 million.

“Our contribution to the permanent MRI in Cranbrook reflects the commitment from all our directors and our communities to investments that support access to a broad range of health-care services within the East Kootenay,” says KERHD Board Chair Dean McKerracher. “The Board is pleased to see that construction work on this important project is under way, and we look forward to the start of this enhanced service next year.”

The enthusiasm around the permanent MRI and the generosity of East Kootenay communities allowed the EKFH to achieve its 18-month campaign goal of $650,000 in just five months.