The new PET/CT scanner is in open to patients at Windsor Regional Hospital following months of planning and several weeks of technical preparation and staff training.

The installation of the new state-of-the-art machine at the Met Campus was celebrated on Thursday.

The local scanner means hundreds of patients in Windsor and Essex County no longer have to travel hundreds of kilometres to hospitals in London, Hamilton, Mississauga and elsewhere.

“We are proud to officially open our PET/CT scanner facility,” said Monica Staley Liang, regional vice president, cancer services, renal, patient relations and legal affairs. “Today is the culmination of many months of hard work in planning for the installation, training and opening involving physicians and staff from multiple departments and teams.”

81-year-old Eric Hands will be the first patient for the PET/CT scanner.

“I’m so excited, I can’t wait to get in there,” said Hands on Thursday.

The PET/CT scans, long the standard for helping diagnose cancers, will support some 600 patients a year in the Windsor-Essex region and beyond.

The machinery was put into place in late April inside a trailer that is now attached to the adjacent Cancer Centre on the south side of Met Campus.

The new machine costs $3.5 million, a bill covered entirely by the provincial government.

“This is an important initiative for hospital care in Windsor and we would like to thank the government of Ontario for their approval and funding of this project,” said David Musyj, WRH President and CEO. “We are pleased we were able to come up with an interim solution to accommodate this new scanner until it can be placed in a permanent home inside a new state-of-art acute care hospital when it is constructed.”

The city did previously have a PET/CT scanner but it was privately-owned and it closed in 2016 after the province denied a funding request to pay for urgent repairs.

Thursday also marked the final chemotherapy session for Windsor city councillor Fred Francis.

The Ward 1 councillor was diagnosed with Nodular Sclerosis Hodgkin's Lymphoma late in 2018 and has had 12 chemotherapy sessions.

Francis tells AM800 News being a patient has showed him the need for a new hospital in the region and he applauds the opening of the new PET/CT scanner that will prevent him from travelling up the 401 for follow-up tests.