Mobile MRI will be shared by four communities, including Comox Valley

The Vancouver Island Health Authority issued an invitation Tuesda to bid for mobile MRI site preparation.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) issued an invitation to bid (ITB) for mobile MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) site preparation Tuesday.According to a VIHA news release, the mobile MRI service will be up and running in the the Comox Valley, Campbell River, Port Alberni and Duncan by this summer.VIHA seeks bids from contractors to prepare sites adjacent to Campbell River Hospital, West Coast General Hospital and Cowichan District Hospital for trailers that will house the mobile MRI unit. As an independent affiliated hospital, St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox will also issue an ITB to ready the site to provide mobile MRI services.The contractors will also be responsible for setting up the required electrical and mechanical connections to support the service.In January, VIHA issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the mobile MRI. According to the release, the RFP is closed and proposals are being evaluated, with the planned ordering and purchase of the equipment to follow.”The mobile MRI will be a state-of-the-art unit that can be transported between the communities,” Valerie Wilson of VIHA communications said in the release.The mobile MRI facility will move between specially designed pads that will be located at the four hospitals. It will be scheduled for one to two weeks in each community, and will be relocated to its next destination over a weekend. The MRI facility will provide approximately 3,800 MRI scans annually, and will be operated by VIHA. According to Valerie Wilson of the Vancouver Island Health Authority, patients do not pay out-of-pocket for an MRI through VIHA.Currently, patients are sent to Nanaimo or Victoria. When the mobile MRI is operational, it will be here for one or two weeks at a time as it’s moved around between four communities.Wilson added that wait times for MRIs with the current system range depend on priority. VIHA’s target is for 50 per cent of routine scan wait times to meet the benchmark — 91 days or less. As of early December, 66 per cent of patients waiting for routine scans met that benchmark.Another option is to go the private route. Privately owned Comox Valley MRI Services on Ryan Road in Courtenay notes “minimal waiting times” on its website. They could not be reached for specifics.However, the costs are not covered by provincial MSP. According to Comox Valley MRI Services’ website, patients can be referred from WCB, ICBC, Blue Cross and other private insurers.Or, patients can be referred by their doctor if they choose to pay for the scan themselves. While financing is available through Medicard, scan costs generally range from $875 to upwards of $1,000, according to the website.writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com