A massive MRI magnet was successfully installed at the Cornwall Community Hospital Monday morning.
The 6,000-pound behemoth was carried aloft by a crane and was neatly dropped into the new MRI suite under construction at the hospital. It was necessary to have a huge hole opened up in the roof of the facility to allow the magnet to be dropped into place.
Helene Periard, chair of the Cornwall Community Hospital board, told Seaway News it was an historic occasion.
"I'm so excited," she said. "It's like an early Christmas present. And we get to open it today."
The MRI will be used to diagnose and treat neurological diseases, cancers, strokes and orthopedic conditions. The MRI scanner will operate eight hours per day, five days per week with the capacity to perform more than 3,000 diagnostic tests annually. This number is consistent with the number of patients who are currently referred to health-care facilities outside of this region.
“This new equipment will complement our new diagnostic centre of excellence,” said Jeanette Despatie, chief executive officer of CCH. “It will mean faster diagnosis of several ailments. Faster diagnosis means faster treatment which will improve patients’ experience. It will also enhance our ability to attract the best medical talent to our region.”
Periard said the medical professionals working at the hospital need updated equipment to effectively complete their jobs.
"Like any professionals it's the tools you need for the job," she said. "An MRI is extra-ordinary."
Cornwall Community Hospital Foundation chair Allan Wilson said the addition of the MRI machine in an indication of the hard work fundraisers have been completing.
"(Fundraising) is a long way from being complete," he said. "But this is some real advancement."
Thanks to donors to the foundation’s $3.5-million To Your Health! Campaign, the foundation has received gifts and pledges totaling $2.5 million so far. However, the price tag for equipment is high and there is still a need to raise the last $1 million by Christmas.
Cornwall Community Hospital’s capacity to offer MRI scans will allow referrals from doctors throughout the region, from North and South Glengarry to North and South Dundas, including North and South Stormont, Awkesasne and Cornwall.