Rupert’s new ultrasound means less travel for medical services

Port of Prince Rupert and DP World contributed $97,500 to Northern Health to purchase the equipment

Patients on the North Coast have one less medical service to travel for after the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital purchased a new diagnostic ultrasound machine.

Radiologists will be able to perform the liver fibrosis assessment in Prince Rupert, rather than sending patients to have the exam done in Prince George or Terrace.

“Ultrasound exams are increasing about six to seven per cent per year so this new equipment is going to help us with that and meet the patient demand,” said Ken Winnig, regional director diagnostic services with Northern Health.

The equipment was purchased earlier this year with $72,500 from the Port of Prince Rupert, $25,000 from DP World and matching funding from Northern Health.

Northern Health radiologist John Dufton explained the benefits of the new machine: it’s cardiac-equipped and is able to do echocardiograms and scan people for muscular skeletal injuries.

“A very specific thing that this machine can do is looking at fibrosis within the liver, which means patients won’t need to get invasive biopsies that they would have had to get in the past. Those are just three things but there are many things that we’re expecting this machine is going to be able to do for us, which is amazing,” Dufton said.

Purchasing the new equipment was an upgrade, not a replacement, radiologist Susan Winther said. Now that the hospital has this piece of equipment, Northern Health is sending another piece of equipment to the Haida Gwaii Hospital.

READ MORE: Bathing facility back online at the hospital with $90,000 from the port and Northern Health

“It’s enabling us to reinstate a service that we used to provide over in Haida Gwaii but we haven’t been able to because we haven’t had any equipment there. With getting this piece of equipment, we can move a piece of equipment that used to work here, over to there, and still keep this department running,” Winther said.

The investment from the port and DP World will support 4,000 ultrasound patients, Northern Health said in the press release. The machine is also expected to be available for educational services. Sonography students will be able to access the technology during their practical training.

Joe Rektor, the interim president and CEO of the Port of Prince Rupert, said he used the hospital’s ultrasound services seven months ago.

Funding from the port was through the Community Investment Fund, which has dedicated nearly $8 million to 60 community projects since 2010.

“I just have to say on behalf of the Prince Rupert Port Authority, I am certainly pleased to announce this is certainly one of the more pleasant aspects of working for the port is to be able to look at how the port has been able to re-contribute into the community some of the financial benefits that the port has experienced over the last few years and into sharing those benefits with our Community Investment Fund,” Rektor said.

READ MORE: B.C. Health Minister announces plan for new hospital in Terrace

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