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New Saskatoon clinic to increase capacity for MRI scans in province

New Saskatoon clinic to increase capacity for MRI scans in province
Patients in Saskatoon will soon have improved access to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) services provided by Mayfair Diagnostics. Mandy Vocke / Global News

To help address increasing demand and wait times, the Saskatchewan government is investing to add capacity for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) services in its two largest cities.

Mayfair Diagnostics will start delivering publicly-funded MRI services via a new machine in Saskatoon and continue providing them with an extension in Regina.

READ MORE: MRI wait list in Saskatchewan sees significant increase

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has awarded the contract, which annually calls for 10,000 MRI scans.

“In the last three years, we’ve increased capacity for MRIs by about 11 per cent but the demand, the referrals, has increased by 18 per cent so our wait lists have gotten longer… we need to rectify that,” Health Minister Jim Reiter said on Wednesday. “Certainly our MRI wait list is too long and we think this is… one of many steps forward to help improve that.

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“The 4,500 [annual MRI scans in Saskatoon], those are publicly-funded, they’ll be paid for by provincial dollars, but they’ll be provided by the private sector.”

Mayfair plans to see its first patients in Saskatoon’s clinic on Aug. 4, 2020.

Regina’s clinic has been providing radiology services since 2011 and delivering MRI scans since 2014.

READ MORE: U of S researcher building MRI to monitor astronaut’s health in space

To receive an MRI at Mayfair, patients need to consult with a doctor, who will review their symptoms, determine if one is required and then refer them, according to the company.

“We rely on our officials dealing with the medical community, the Saskatchewan Medical Association, with doctors, to ensure that there aren’t any unnecessary referrals but in the meantime, it’s important that we have capable capacity and, again, that’s what today’s about,” Reiter said.

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“There will be a radiologist [on site in Saskatoon], especially for those scans that require administration of contrast,” SHA physician executive provincial programs Dr. Paul Babyn said.
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The three-year contract with the third-party provider is worth $14 million.

Saskatchewan NDP Leader and family doctor Ryan Meili said last week that the contract with Mayfair Diagnostics pulls economic opportunities from the province. He also said the government passed over a bid from a group of Saskatoon radiologists to go with the Calgary-based company.

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The province said a fairness consultant was hired to oversee the request for proposal process.

— With files from Anna McMillan