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Here’s how Erie Shores HealthCare plans on cutting wait times for MRI testing

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Erie Shores HealthCare in Leamington has started demolition work on a new wing of the hospital where a new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine will be housed.

“MRIs are taking about 380 days for non-priority patients,” said hospital president and CEO Kristin Kennedy. “We hope that this will help with that.”

A substantial donation for the MRI project was announced during a media conference Tuesday.

 “The community needs this hospital to survive,” said Mathew Iacobelli whose family (owners of Unico and Primo Foods) donated $1 million to the MRI project.

Iacobelli and his aunt Sandra Macera, attended the news conference and took the inaugural swings of the sledgehammers to begin the demolition — on behalf of their parents.

“They're always happy to give back to the community and there's such a need in the community for this and hopefully other people will feel like giving back as well,” said Macera.

“The family as a whole, we were happy to partake in this and we're looking forward to seeing this whole project come to completion,” said Iacobelli.

Penny Bellhouse, executive director of the Erie Shores Foundation, credits the donation from Unico and Primo Foods for "kicking us off and really getting this project started.”

Ontario is covering $850,000 for the annual operational costs of running an MRI yearly, including the hiring of four staff members. The hospital must raise an additional $5 million to purchase the equipment.

“Being able to have patients that can drive 15 to 20 minutes to be able to have a test done and not have to drive into the city is a benefit for them,” added Kennedy.

Once the MRI is operational in Leamington, Kennedy anticipates ESHC will be able to perform between 1,000 and 1,500 tests per year; running eight hours per day (every Monday through Friday).

Kennedy believes that will shorten MRI wait times across the Erie-St. Clair healthcare system, beginning this spring.

“We are securing a mobile unit that will arrive in early May that will be on site in one of our parking structures outside to be able to accommodate patients and hopefully take care of a few thousand individuals over the next little bit of time in the interim,” said Kennedy.

By the end of 2024, Kennedy said she is “confident” the permanent machine will be operational in its new location on the left-hand side of the main entrance of the hospital. 

“We have approximately $3 million left to raise,” said Kennedy. “The $1-million dollar donation from the Iacobelli family really sets the stage for the community to be able to participate and give back to the hospitals so that we can have the services we need here.”

Click here for details about upcoming fundraisers for the Erie Shores Health Foundation.

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