box10.gif (1299 bytes)







Diagnostic imaging

VIHA re-opens bidding on mobile MRI

VICTORIA – A mobile magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) service with an on-off history appears to be on again. The service is to be run in Campbell River, the Comox Valley, Port Alberni and Duncan, says the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA).

VIHA has issued another Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking equipment required to run the mobile service. The RFP can be viewed on the BC Bid website,

“The issuing of the RFP for mobile MRI equipment is welcome news for patients living on the North Island, West Coast and in the Cowichan Valley,” Comox Valley MLA Don McRae said in a VIHA release. “The coming expansion of medical imaging services will be a huge benefit to patients who live in these communities and surrounding areas.”

If approved, the mobile MRI facility will move between specially designed pads that will be located at Campbell River Hospital, St. Joseph’s General Hospital, Cowichan District Hospital and West Coast General Hospital. VIHA said 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.

“MRI technology plays a key role in diagnosing and supporting the treatment of disease,” says Dr. John Mathieson, Medical Director of Medical Imaging for VIHA. “This new mobile service will support better patient care and outcomes.”

It is anticipated the mobile MRI service will be in operation by early summer.

The last RFP didn’t go so well. Last April, VIHA issued a Request for Proposals for the mobile imaging service, but after reviewing six proposals VIHA announced in July it would not award a contract for the service because of cost concerns. That sparked an angry backlash from local healthcare advocates.

One local radiologist said the decision was potentially disastrous for local healthcare and the recruitment of future radiologists. NDP MLAs questioned VIHA’s cost figures, saying one of the proponents had quoted a scan price roughly half of what VIHA had claimed.

In August, VIHA said the decision to scrap the service would be reviewed because there had been “a number of very good points made, questions raised and suggestions put forward.”

In October, VIHA announced the mobile MRI service was back in the game plan. At the time, VIHA said the service would operate 50 weeks per year with two weeks designated for service and maintenance.

Posted January 26, 2012