New medical imaging facility strives to boost access to healthcare in Hamilton

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Published August 24, 2023 at 9:38 am

COURTESY OF MOHAWK COLLEGE
COURTESY OF MOHAWK COLLEGE

A new medical imaging centre has opened in Hamilton, which Mohawk College and McMaster University say provides a “revolutionary approach” to cut wait times for diagnostic imaging and double the speed of service for patients needing MRI scans.

Hamilton’s Mohawk College and McMaster University announced today (Aug. 24) that the Centre for Integrated and Advanced Medical Imaging (CIAMI) will provide a collaborative and unique model for patient care, education and training that have not been done before in Ontario.

They said the facility includes an advanced MRI unit, the second of its kind in Canada. The centre will be used for educational training, imaging research and magnetic resonance imaging, which is typically meant to detect and diagnose diseases as well as monitor patients’ treatments.

“We have a backlog of patients waiting for MRI scans in our region, we are facing a health human resource crisis in Ontario, we have challenges in meeting the imaging needs of our hospital in-patients and our researchers need access to equipment that isn’t competing with clinical needs,” said Julian Dobranowski, professor and chair of the Department of Medical Imaging at McMaster and an adjunct professor at Mohawk College, in a statement. “CIAMI provides an innovative solution to all of these issues.”

The facility is located at the Mohawk-McMaster Institute of Applied Health Sciences building on McMaster’s main campus. The centre is also a partnership with Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

The provincial average for MRI scans is 1.54 patients per hour, which data suggests could be improved with greater access to scans provided by the centre, according to Mohawk and McMaster.

“The creation of CIAMI provides a clear example of how Mohawk College and McMaster University work together with community partners to everyone’s benefit. Together, we will conduct research to identify best practices, will offer students exceptional training, and will provide greater access to MRI services for patients. We are excited to move forward on this initiative with our valued partners,” said Ron McKerlie, president and CEO of Mohawk College, in a statement.

The Ontario Ministry of Health provided $5 million in funding over three years to support the development and testing of the CIAMI model, including funding to operate an MRI for clinical use.

The centre will provide a new model of training with a lab for interdisciplinary teams to provide education, which Mohawk and McMaster said will take pressure off hospitals for clinical placements and expedite the capability to graduate MRI technologists.

The centre will provide advanced technologies and use of artificial intelligence for researchers in the imaging field.

The new model of care has been piloted at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s Imaging Research Center and will continue at CIAMI in the fall, according to the press release.

The centre is supported by funding from Mohawk and McMaster, the Juravinski Research Institute, and the government of Ontario.

“This centre presents an exciting opportunity for patients, clinicians, and students alike,” said Rob MacIsaac, president and CEO of Hamilton Health Sciences. “The combined focus on teaching and research will undoubtedly give way to new solutions to some of our health system’s most pressing issues, including healthcare worker shortages and diagnostic imaging wait times. It’s a promising addition to Hamilton’s robust health research and hospital network.”

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