Upper River Valley Hospital Foundation completes $3 million MRI campaign

by | Oct 19, 2023

Waterville hospital set to break ground in 2024 to install permanent imaging device

The Waterville hospital will soon be home to a permanent state-of-the-art MRI device thanks to the Upper River Valley Hospital Foundation and generous community donations.

The foundation confirmed Thursday morning, Oct. 19, that it reached the $3 million goal to purchase the 1.5 Tesla MRI device and the required modular accommodation unit.

The foundation’s most recent project started with a remarkable anonymous family donation of $1.4 million late last year, covering the purchase of the MRI device. Further community support quickly provided the additional $1.6 million funding needed to purchase the modular unit, which will be attached to the hospital to house the MRI.

Foundation Co-Chair Betty Lou Craig stressed how thankful the board is to reach the funding goal.

“The final gifts came about a week after Thanksgiving, but to say our Board of Directors is thankful would be an understatement,” she said. “The community really delivered on this project, which I think demonstrates not only the need for the MRI but the incredible community spirit in donating to a project that will help friends, family and the Upper River Valley area.”

Past co-chair Dr. Wayne McLaughlin, who, with Dr. William Mutrie, founded the URVHF in 2019, commended the generosity of the anonymous family when announcing their donation in January.

“The credit for this fantastic donation goes 100 per cent to the family, who approached me fully motivated to supply the permanent MRI machine,” McLaughlin said at the time. “My role was to answer any questions that the family had. When the foundation began this campaign at the start of this year, we never dreamed we would secure a donation of this size: you never know what generosity is out there!”

URVH’s new MRI will replace a portable MRI the hospital shares with Campbellton, which performs about 1,400 scans per year at the facility in Waterville.

Margaret Melanson, Interim CEO of Horizon Health Network, explained the new permanent unit will feature new capabilities, expanding the number of patients who will benefit from important MRI services.

“Foundations are our strongest partner in helping us deliver on our critical action priorities to improve health care in New Brunswick — access to services, recruitment and retention, patient flow and patient experience,” she said. “The work that URVHF has done here certainly will help expedite the project, and our medical imaging team is thrilled.

Melanson explained the permanent unit will have features to accommodate more conditions, such as pacemakers and bariatric patients, and the accessibility will result in fewer referrals to other facilities and reduce travel and wait times for patients in the area.

“Congratulations to the URVHF Board and to the community for a wildly successful campaign,” she said.

The MRI project is the latest and largest of several foundation equipment purchases for the Upper River Valley Hospital since its formation.

The more than $1 million in previous equipment purchases included new Endoscopy Department equipment, three critical care beds, a video system upgrade for an operating room, a SimNewB simulation mannequin, a fetal heart-rate monitor and a modern Panda infant warmer for obstetrics and the Natal Intensive Care Unit.

Foundation Co-Chair Andy Lenehan praised his and Craig’s predecessors for their creation and dedication to the URVHF.

“Dr. McLaughlin and Dr. Mutrie have established quite a legacy in healthcare and have done a remarkable job in recruiting passionate, community-building board members,” he said. “As in-coming co-chairs, Betty Lou and myself have big shoes to fill, and we look forward to working with the board to continue to elevate patient care in the Upper River Valley area.”

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