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Estevan, Sask. hospital to receive MRI services thanks to private donor

St. Joseph’s Hospital in Estevan, Sask., has received the green light from the Saskatchewan government to proceed with MRI services — all thanks to a private donor.

Local citizen Elaine Walkom made a request to the province to bring an MRI specifically to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Estevan. She promised to donate $2 million to help cover the costs, but her request was denied in September 2023.

Saskatchewan Health Minister Everett Hindley said there’s a process that starts with a proposal with the request by the local hospital operator, the health foundation and the Health Ministry.

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“We have a set of criteria that the Ministry of Health and the SHA (Saskatchewan Health Authority) uses for determining the location of the expansion of diagnostic services, CT scans and MRIs,” Hindley said. “I think that at the time that it didn’t fit the necessary criteria in terms of further expansion.”

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In December 2023, the proposal was brought forward and approved.

“We know that health care is ever-evolving. There’s new equipment that comes forward all the time and in a lot of cases,” Hindley said. “I’m aware of new equipment that is new technology, leading-edge technology and we want to make sure the patients of Saskatchewan have access to that.”

St. Joseph’s Hospital says the new MRI services will help deal with diagnostic and surgery wait-lists.

“We have over 1,600 people every year having to travel over 200 kilometres for service,” executive director Candace Kopec said. “We know that in our province our goal is to provide services as close to home as possible. So, this is one step in doing that.”

The MRI services at St. Joseph’s Hospital will begin operations by early 2026.

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