A PERMANENT magnetic resonance imaging scanner, or MRI machine, will operate at Central Gippsland Health Service in Sale from this week.
In addition to the new machine, the medical imaging department will also provide a new outpatient X-ray service at Maffra hospital four days a week.
The MRI machine, which replaces the existing mobile service, is located in a specially built area adjoining the medical imaging department.
The CGHS board decided to provide funding for a permanent machine following news the current mobile MRI service for Gippsland would be decommissioned.
CGHS chief executive Dr Frank Evans said an MRI service was essential to meet the needs of patients.
“Access to MRI is considered essential for us to maintain our medical, high dependency and critical care capability,” Dr Evans said.
“Local access is also important for local people who would otherwise need to travel to Traralgon or Bairnsdale for a service if it is not available in Sale.”
CGHS manager and chief radiographer with medical imaging, Simon Waixel, said the permanent MRI machine would operate five days a week and significantly reduce current waiting lists for the mobile service of three weeks or longer.
“It will provide greater flexibility for the local community,” he said.
“We are planning an information night in the coming weeks to fully brief interested people.”
The MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to take images of the body’s interior.
It is used to investigate or diagnose conditions such as tumours, joint or spinal injuries or diseases, soft tissue injuries or diseases of internal organs including the brain or heart.
“The MRI machine complements the equipment we already have,” Mr Waixel added.
“However it also advances the services we provide, increasing our capability.
“It will maintain our surgical capability within the organisation and is quite often used as a staging scan for cancer.”
CGHS has spent about $200,000 in capital works to build a facility to house the MRI machine, with work beginning in October.
Dr Evans said the decision to have a permanent MRI machine was in line with the CGHS Health Plan 2012-2022.
“The plan makes a commitment to maintain these capabilities and the provision of a comprehensive medical imaging service is important component part of this commitment,” he said.
“This investment by CGHS in this equipment ensures that we are providing the best possible service for our patients.”
The CGHS medical imaging department currently employs 32 people across three sites – at Sale and Maffra hospitals and in Raymond Street, Sale.
The X-ray outpatient service at Maffra hospital will begin May 4.
Up until now, only an inpatient X-ray service has been available.
The new service will operate Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays from 9am to 11.30am on a walk-in basis.