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Huntsville hospital to get MRI machine

The Huntsville Hospital is getting a Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine (MRI), possibly within the next year.

On Monday, the province announced $800,000 in operating funds to run the scanner. However, Cheryl Harrison, Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare’s (MAHC) President and CEO, says there’s still a lot of work to be done before the machine is up and running.

“It’s such great news and the announcement of an MRI in the [District of Muskoka] is just amazing,” says Harrison. “The commitment from the hospital, from the community really, is to help us fundraise for the piece of machinery. The government has generously given us the operating dollars, so now we have to do our work around the capital, the equipment as well as the construction.”

With the announcement of the machine, the Huntsville Hospital Foundation (HHF) has bumped the goal of its “Focus on Imaging” fundraising campaign to around $10-million, up from $5.5-million.

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Harrison says that while that’s a significant jump, she doesn’t think it will be a problem for the HHF. 

“We have such a generous community and people have been waiting a long time for this piece of equipment,” says Harrison. “The equipment itself is just over $4-million, and the construction makes up the rest of that.”

Currently, patients in and around Muskoka need to travel to the Barrie or Orillia hospitals to get scanned by an MRI. Once the machine is up and running, Harrison says it will save about 5,000 patients per year the hour-long drive.

While the Huntsville Hospital has been a designated stroke centre since 2006, it’s the only one in the province that does not currently have an MRI. Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Graydon Smith says the province is very pleased to help “make this dream a reality.”

“This is a hugely important project for Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare, for the residents of Parry Sound-Muskoka,” says Smith. “The government recognizes that MRI machines, whether it’s here or in other locations we’re funding throughout the province, are incredibly important for diagnostic imaging, for stroke care which specifically happens here at the Huntsville site.”

Harrison says if all goes well, the machine could be installed in about a year. She adds that by the time the Huntsville and Bracebridge hospitals are finished with redevelopment, they could be ready for a second MRI.

**With files from Mathew Reisler

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