Six months may seem like it’s still a long wait until DSM’s new MRI in Selkirk Regional Health Centre is operational, especially for residents and physicians excitedly awaiting its arrival, but for Senior MRI Technologist Trina Gulay, it’s a tight timeline with a significant list of critical tasks.
“There is a lot of planning that needs to happen for the implementation of a new MRI,” said Trina, who came to DSM after 15 years with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority where she also managed the implementation of MRI at Grace Hospital. “First off, if you think about the fact that the wait list for elective procedures is six months, then we need to start taking appointments now to help decrease the provincial MRI wait list. But before we can be ready for appointments, we need to have all of our policies and procedures in place.”
There are many protocols, policies and procedures that Trina needs to develop before the machine can be “ramped up” — which is the terminology used to refer to the process of turning on an MRI. None are perhaps more important than the policies pertaining to safety. The machine that Selkirk will be receiving this June is a Siemens 1.5 Tesla magnet. Trina explained that this magnet is stronger than the ones used to pick up cars. Any metal that comes into the MRI room will fly like a missile toward the machine, potentially injuring or even killing anyone that stands in its path.
“It’s actually called the projectile or missile effect,” said Trina. “MRI is perfectly safe for patients if all the safety procedures are observed, but when they mistakenly aren’t, the results often make international headlines. Safety just can’t be overemphasized.”
Like other MRI facilities, the MRI wing at Selkirk has been specially designed for safety. Visitors must travel through three other rooms before they can enter the specific room where the machine is housed. Patients and other visitors such as physicians, nurses, housekeeping staff and even emergency personnel will not be able to gain entry without a technologist.
There are many other necessary policies and procedures for Trina to develop, as would be the case for setting up any new service. For instance, a scheduling system needs to be in place that will maximize the impact on Manitoba’s MRI wait list for elective and non-urgent scans while also ensuring there is room to handle emergencies. This also means knowing how cancellations will be handled.
“Having a policy that will enable clerical staff to quickly fill no shows and cancellations will be very important,” said Trina. “We don’t want to have downtime if at all possible. It’s so important for patients to phone us in advance if they are cancelling their appointment. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.”
Trina will also be building job tasks for technologists, orientation guides for staff, hosting MRI safety training sessions and developing competency documents to meet Human Resources and Employee Relations requirements. Then, new staff will need to be recruited, hired and trained before they can accept patients. Recruitment won’t happen until closer to the go live date, but all the documentation needs to be ready to go in advance.
“We also have provincial accreditation to prepare for,” said Trina. “MANQAP has specific needs and expectations too, so everything we do needs to be compliant with these guidelines. There is so much that needs to be accomplished. I use a Gantt chart to keep the project organized and ensure that everything is on track for go live.”
It is anticipated that scanning will officially begin in late June or early July. Look for updates on this MRI project in coming months.