File photo.

File photo.

Vernon hospital lands high-tech equipment

An MRI will be installed at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, possibly next year.

North Okanagan residents will soon have access to advanced imaging services.

A magnetic resonance imaging machine is expected to be installed at Vernon Jubilee Hospital in 2018.

“Health authorities are facing increased demand for services as our population ages,” said Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA.

“The new MRI will increase the capacity of Vernon Jubilee to provide more service and reduce wait times.”

Currently, the closest MRI is in Kelowna, and physicians had been pushing for the technology in Vernon.

“This is extremely good news for Vernon Jubilee Hospital and the patients we serve in the North Okanagan,” said Richard Harding, VJH administrator.

“The engagement, support and dedication of our Vernon physicians, staff and partners in their advocacy for MRI services at Vernon Jubilee to improve the delivery of patient care cannot be understated.”

While the cost hasn’t been determined, the price tag for an MRI is about $5 million.

Funding for VJH is part of the government’s MRI strategy, which was released in 2015 to address increasing demand and existing waitlists.

The strategy is committed to ramping up the number of scans performed over four years, to reach 65,000 more procedures annually by 2019.

According to the Ministry of Health, the government has acquired 16 new MRI scanners over 10 years, for a total of 25.