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New CT scanner announced

John Towns
Selkirk Mayor Larry Johannson (right) makes some remarks about the need for a new CT scanner, while Selkirk MLA Greg Dewar looks on.

Selkirk Mayor Larry Johannson (right) makes some remarks about the need for a new CT scanner, while Selkirk MLA Greg Dewar looks on.

Selkirk and area residents requiring CT scans will soon be able to undergo the process quicker and more reliably, as the province announced the purchase of a new scanner for the Selkirk & District General Hospital on Tuesday.

The hospital's current scanner has been overworked since its 2003 installation; handling almost 8,000 scans a year when it was intended to do only 3,000 annually.

"I was here in 2003 with Dave Chomiak when we cut the ribbon on this (current) one, and it's currently approaching the end of its life," explained Selkirk MLA Greg Dewar, who made the announcement of $1.8 million in funding for the new scanner on behalf of provincial Health Minister Theresa Oswald.

According to Dewar, the new scanner will have the ability to perform more detailed scans - and perform them quicker - than the current machine.

"The new one will be a 128-slice scanner - this one, I believe, is a four-slice scanner, so it's quite the improvement in the capability of our new scanner," he said, referencing the number of images layered on top of each other (or "slices") that make up the image put out by a CT scanner.

"(The imaging abilities of the new scanner) will allow more scans to take place here in Selkirk, reducing the number of patients that need to be transferred to Winnipeg," he said.

Interlake Regional Health Authority CEO Kevin Beresford echoed Dewar's sentiment, saying that the new scanner is certainly "another piece of good news" for the IRHA.

"This diagnostic tool is of significant importance in supporting our inpatient, outpatient and surgical programs in our facility," he said. "We're really looking forward to get a new piece of technology in to serve our patients and our residents both here and in Selkirk's new hospital."

Selkirk Mayor Larry Johannson, meanwhile, says that the new piece of equipment is just another step in providing the best health care possible to residents of Selkirk and the surrounding communities.

"One of the things that you hear continuously is to keep the health care going - more doctors, more nurses, more services," he said. "This is one that's a real ongoing thing, and to be able to bring this kind of equipment here is great."

Johannson added that the new CT scanner would make a great addition to Selkirk's as-yet-unconstructed new hospital, the building of which he's hoping will be underway by the fall.

"I'm being optimistic there, but that's my goal and my hope that we're looking at that kind of timeline," he said, though he was careful to note that the province was directing the construction project.

Johannson also added that he hoped to see more fundraising done to bring an MRI scanner to the new hospital, noting that the City of Selkirk will be earmarking some funds in their budget to try and bring the multi-million dollar scanner to the Interlake.

"We've got about $100,000 so far raised, and we're looking at a number of other partners like St. Andrews, St. Clements, Gimli to help boost that number," he said. "I'd like to go to the First Nations for some money, and maybe we'll just end up going back on bended knee to the province, too.

"It's a huge, huge undertaking, it's a $5 million or $6 million commitment, but the value added for something like an MRI - there's no price you can put on it. It would make the quality of life better for everyone in this area, and even into the north end of Winnipeg," he said.

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