Construction for second MRI hits key milestones

News / General / Redevelopment & Construction / Diagnostic Imaging Care
By Meaghan Quinn

Shielding and framing have been installed for the second MRI

Driving along King Street, along the back of our Kingston General Hospital site, it may not be immediately obvious to spot the major changes happening inside KHSC’s Diagnostic Imaging department. However, behind the grey exterior walls, a major construction project is well underway.

Since July 2018, crews have been working to demolish and reconstruct a space in preparation for the arrival of a second MRI. This past week a key milestone in the project was reached with the installation of a radio-frequency shield.

“With the demolition complete now you can really see and feel the progress of the work as the plywood goes up and windows start to be framed,” says Kelly Hubbard, manager of Imaging Services. “Now with the shielding installed it’s starting to feel like we’re getting close to the finish line.”

This specialized shield is a key feature for the MRI as it stops radio-frequency waves from entering the room and disrupting the magnetic field. It also stops radio-frequency waves from leaving the scanner room. Made of copper, this shielding surrounds the entire room where the MRI magnet will eventually be placed.

Additional signs of progress include the framing-in of new a waiting room,  changing areas, a wheelchair accessible washroom, scanner room, and the new control room.

Another big milestone for the  project is the upcoming magnet delivery date.

“On April 3 we will receive the new magnet and anticipate that we will be able to begin scanning patients on May 13,” says Hubbard. “Knowing this date makes it easier to get through this construction period because now we know the end is not too far away.”

Getting through the project so far hasn’t always been easy as  staff and patients have been working and receiving care around ongoing construction.

“We have a temporary wall and tarp in place where a wall used to be which has made for some cold days and on heavy construction days we’ll wear headphones because of the noise, but it’s absolutely going to be worth it,” says Tudor Chibacu, Senior MRI technologist. “We’re very excited to soon have a nice new modern space and a new machine which is going to be amazing for us and our patients.”

The new space will include a large, bright and airy area for patients to wait in before their scan on the new MRI machine. Looking out over Lake Ontario, the hope is that this area will be a calming and relaxing space in an otherwise busy department.

“MRI scans are in confined spaces which can make some patients nervous and it’s our hope that being able to have a beautiful open area for patients to wait in beforehand will help them feel less anxious and make the process of having a scan  easier for them,” says Hubbard. “It’s a gorgeous space when you see how much glass there is going to be, patients will feel like they’re sitting on a deck at the edge of King Street.”

The purchase and installation of the second MRI scanner is a result of a strategic investment by Kingston Health Sciences Centre as well as from a campaign by the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation that received significant community support, including a $3 million donation from Britt Smith and Homestead Landholdings. 

At any one time in our region, 850 to 1,000 people are waiting to be booked for a hospital MRI. The more urgent cases are given priority on the current MRI, with less severe patients having to wait for their procedure. The installation of a second MRI will help make these wait times more manageable for patients and their families.