Dunlop, Martin announce annual funding for MRI services at GBGH

Maybe it was the magnets, but all eyes were drawn to the future of a new diagnostic machine for the North Simcoe community.

At Georgian Bay General Hospital (GBGH) Friday, government dignitaries were joined by hospital brass and numerous staff in the formal announcement of annual funding of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine.

An MRI is a non-invasive imaging technique used to scan parts of the body through strong magnetic fields, providing pictures of the anatomy for diagnostic purposes. Due to the size and cost of the machines, GBGH submitted an application following a provincial initiative to award new MRIs across the province at a cost of $20 million in operational funding; they received approval in December.

Matthew Lawson, president and CEO of GBGH, expressed thanks to the government representatives for their role in the proceedings. He added that it would be within the next two years before the machine would be in operation, due to establishing a proper location in GBGH for the MRI.

“Roughly 3,900 residents seek out an MRI every year,” said Lawson, “and we are very excited that they will no longer have to make that 80-kilometre round trip to the nearest MRI, and will be able to receive it in their local community.”

Robin Martin, parliamentary assistant to Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones, praised the hospital for their efforts in serving the community.

“On behalf of Premier Ford, Minister Jones and our entire government,” said Martin, “I want to express our profound gratitude to all the staff, leadership and volunteers here at the Georgian Bay General Hospital for your extraordinary efforts to provide high quality care for this community.”

GBGH board of directors vice chair Bernie Uhlich personally thanked Dunlop in her team’s persistence in ensuring the application didn’t fall by the wayside.

“What we can see here is that you and your team have shared that same enthusiasm and commitment in helping everyone work to make this happen.”

Simcoe North MPPJill Dunlop shared a laugh about the December exchange she had with Lawson to confirm the approval.

“When your MPP calls on a Friday night, it’s usually good news,” said Dunlop to the laughter of the attendees. “We all celebrated that evening.

“The province’s commitment to improving access to care here in Midland… will allow patients to stay in the region and complete an MRI, and will help to alleviate pressures and reduce wait times for other hospitals.”

Nicole Kraftscik, executive director of the GBGH Foundation, expressed her thanks as well while hoping to remind residents that capital equipment for the hospital is entirely reliant on local fundraising and community involvement will always be required.

“The GBGHF has committed to funding four million dollars, and we’re going to stand behind that,” said Kraftscik.

When asked by MidlandToday if an MRI had ever been used on themselves or their immediate loved ones, all of the speakers said that the diagnostic machines had been involved in their lives, and expressed gratitude for the new GBGH machine in the upcoming months.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,