MRI scanner is in place

ALEXIA JOHNSTON
Last updated 05:00 21/12/2012
timaru mri
JOHN BISSET/ Fairfax NZ
SPECIAL DELIVERY: Workers get the MRI in position before rolling it into a purpose built room at Timaru Hospital.

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South Canterbury's $3 million MRI project is one step closer to completion.

The MRI scanner arrived at Timaru Hospital yesterday - 16 months after the community started fundraising for it. It took a crane and about a dozen men to lift the 6.5-tonne machine into place, before the scanner was rolled through a hole into its purpose-built room.

Work on the 200-square-metre building will now continue, including closing off the 2.4m by 2.6m hole that was created to get the machine into its room.

South Canterbury District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming was on site yesterday to watch the moment many people in the community have been waiting for.

"It's pretty exciting. It's good to see all that long term planning come to fruition and seeing it tangibly here," he said.

It was important to remember that it would not have been possible without the support of the community.

"Sixteen months from starting the campaign to having it delivered on site is pretty impressive."

MRI appeal chairman Ron Luxton said he was impressed with the project's success. "I'm delighted to see it finally in." Of the $3m raised by the community, $1.59m went towards the machine, $800,000 towards the building and $200,000 for an anaesthetic machine.

A further $200,000 will go towards training staff to operate the MRI. Remaining money will be kept in the Aoraki MRI Charitable Trust for ongoing maintenance costs and future replacement of the machine, which has a life expectancy of 10 years. General Electric Healthcare installation project manager Mark Salmon was on site to assist with the installation yesterday.

He was pleased with the way installation went and expects it will be operational by the second half of January.

The machine will save about 1400 trips to Christchurch each year to access the service.

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- The Timaru Herald

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