Patients in the Fraser Valley will soon have access to two more MRI machines, as the province takes over two private clinics later this fall.
“Fraser Health will take over Surrey MRI (5660 192 St.) and Fraser Valley MRI (2151 McCallum Rd.) in Abbotsford,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix at the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre in Surrey on Monday. The sale will be finalized Oct. 1
Dix declined to reveal how much the clinics would cost Fraser Health, citing confidentiality as part of the commercial sale, but said staff working there would transfer to the public system.
The two clinics will begin operating publicly within a month and will do 2,000 exams this year alone.
“These procedures will be in addition to the 63,000 exams Fraser Health in on track to complete by March 31, 2019,” Dix said.
The purchases are part of the province’s goal of 225,000 MRIs in B.C. in 2018-19, up from 188,000 in 2017-18.
“When I became health minister, we were 10th in Canada in terms of delivering MRIs to people,” said Dix. “[Fraser Health] historically had fewer MRIs per population than just about any place in Canada.”
Currently, Fraser Health has four 24/7 machines.
“Starting on April 1, 2019, these new public health care MRI clinics will perform 10,000 new MRI examinations each year.”
Currently, across B.C. 50 per cent of patients wait more than 41 days for an MRI and 10 per cent of patients wait at least 200 days.
Fraser Health chair Jim Sinclair said the announcement would end years of suffering by people in the region who have not had access to proper care.
By buying already operating clinics, he said, Fraser Health was saving itself the cost and time needed to get a new clinic off the ground.
|Chair Jim Sinclair speaks about Fraser Health’s purchase of two new MRI machines in Surrey and Abbotsford while at the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre in Surrey Monday. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)|
Said BC Health Coalition co-chair Edith MacHattie: “What we see with the private, for-profit clinics is there’s financial incentive for them to perform as many scans as possible, even if they’re not necessary or duplications.”
When there’s no push to make money, she said, the only MRIs the public healthcare system is interested in providing are the ones patients need.
Having a two-tier healthcare system for MRIs ran the danger of “commodifying people’s illness and suffering and pain,” she said, and letting people pay to jump the queue.
“We have said very strongly as Canadians that people should access healthcare as a human right and that everyone deserves high quality care whether you have $2 to your name or $200,000.”