AUXILIARY NOTES: Hospital MRI saving lives

Since Peace Arch Hospital obtained the machine in 2008, it has saved dozens of lives.


n 2008, Peace Arch Hospital received its first MRI.

This machine – known as a magnetic resonance imaging machine – is one of many imaging tests used to see inside a patient without surgery.

Invented in 1977, it sees soft tissue in exquisite detail and the images are stored on a secure electronic system known as PACS (picture archiving communication system).

This technology is not for every type of medical imaging, but for some conditions it is very useful.

There is no radiation used to see these images because they are taken by magnetic energy.

The Peace Arch Hospital Auxiliary donated $1 million towards the cost of this machine, and Fraser Health and the Peace Arch Hospital and Community Health Foundation also contributed. The machine was only a part of the cost and a room had to be made available for this equipment.

Prior to the purchase of the MRI,  the doctors in White Rock/South Surrey had to go to other hospitals in the region.

This created long wait times for patients requiring this type of scan. The advantage of Peace Arch Hospital having its own MRI is that we get funding to do procedures for our local patients. If a doctor in the area requires an MRI for one of their patients it can be done at the hospital. No one wants to travel to get this procedure done. Doctors usually receive the results from the MRI within three days.

Another major advantage of having the MRI equipment at Peace Arch Hospital is that over time, doctors get to know the people in the medical imaging department.

The first MRI was done on July 3, 1977 and took five hours. There have been major changes since that time and now the technology is able to work quite a bit faster.

The hospital is able to do about 16 procedures each day and each scan takes about 20 to 40 minutes.

The importance to the community of having an MRI in our local hospital is that radiologists are able to work with the latest and most advanced technology. This enables them to recruit the most qualified technologists.

The auxiliary is very busy as we look forward to our 65th anniversary celebrations in June.

Felicity Matthews writes monthly on behalf of the Peace Arch Hospital Auxiliary.