The Mammography Department at the South Muskoka Memorial Hospital in Bracebridge has a new $80,000 specimen imaging device, but it’s one of many pieces of equipment on the hospital’s wishlist.

The device was purchased thanks to money raised by the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation. 

“It allows us to do stereotactic biopsies,” Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare CEO Natalie Bubela says. She explains they will use the device’s 3D scanner to find the precise location of a tumour or calcium deposit and will be able to remove it for further testing. Bubela says this machine makes that process quicker and is less invasive, adding you also won’t need to go in for surgery to have this done since it can now be completed using a needle. 

“The hospital selects a piece of equipment and the individual foundation commits to raising the funds for that,” Bubela explains. A three-year plan is currently in place for both the Bracebridge and Huntsville hospitals to ensure the equipment is kept in good shape and up-to-date. Bubela says an item could be replaced because it’s past its best before date or needs replacing because of technological advances. 

With this machine purchased, there are now 40 items left on the hospital’s wishlist. “Every year we have a list of equipment needs that gets reviewed and updated annually,” Director of Annual Giving for the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation Leah Walker tells the newsroom. The list usually totals $2 million worth of equipment. The current list has prices ranging from $2,000 for a pediatric crib to $700,000 for x-ray room renovations. “The amounts vary, but I would say all the equipment on that list is equally important,” Walker adds.

At the Huntsville Memorial Hospital, the list has 35 pieces of equipment on it, including a $2.5 million nuclear medicine camera. Executive Director of the Huntsville Hospital Foundation Katherine Craine says their wishlist is focused on diagnostic equipment. “It’s really important for patients to have accurate diagnostics done in order to get the proper treatment,” she explains. Over the next two to three years, the foundation projects that a lot of the diagnostic equipment will need to be replaced. 

A campaign is set to be launched in the next few weeks to help cover that cost. Craine says it will be called “Focus on Imaging.” It will be rolled out in stages. A handful of donations have already come in, which Craine says has allowed them to purchase fluoroscopy x-ray equipment.

Bubela says it’s important to remember that the Ministry of Health doesn’t provide funding to help with replacing equipment or renovations at hospitals in Ontario. “We rely solely on the generosity of our community and the work of the foundations to share what the needs of the hospital are,” she says.