Squamish is finally getting its own CT scanner.
It is a much-needed piece of diagnostic medical equipment, which will mean tests can be done locally, thus less commuting for patients and fewer ambulances tied up doing transfers.
Minister of Health Adrian Dix announced on Monday afternoon that Squamish General Hospital is getting the new Computed Tomography (CT) scanner.
"This means no more drives to Whistler or North Vancouver to Lions Gate Hospital for CT imaging, which makes a huge difference for people at the hospital, both for the staff, and most importantly for the patients and for their families," said Dix at the press conference held behind Squamish Hospital, with the backdrop of the Stawamus Chief.
"It also means a reduction in wait times and an increase in access to timely diagnostics across the region, which can be critical for people not just here but everywhere."
The CT scanner—including the small expansion of the hospital it will require—should be ready for its first patients in January or February of 2025, Dix said.
“This is a big day; it's a big day for the community. One that brings care closer to home, which is critical for timelines—timely diagnosis and treatment planning,” he said.
Last year, at least 5,500 Howe Sound residents were redirected to another healthcare facility for a CT scan.
The new scanner is projected to perform 7,000 CT scans per year, once operational.
The $6.5 million project is being funded, in part, by the provincial government through Vancouver Coastal Health, which is chipping in $2.8 million.
The Sea to Sky Regional Hospital District is funding $2.6 million.
Squamish Hospital Foundation provided $1.1 million, with Woodfibre LNG donating $900,000 of that.
The Foundation has been working toward the scanner for about 20 years.
"More than 20 years ago, our beloved Dr. Laverne Kindree saw the need for a CT Scanner at Squamish General Hospital. Since then, we have all worked tirelessly towards making this a reality. We are grateful to donors like Woodfibre LNG, Vancouver Coastal Health and so many others in Squamish for helping to make this important medical service commence soon."
The scanner is good news for healthcare workers, too, according to Dr. Annie Gornall, Squamish Medical Staff Association president.
"A CT scanner at Squamish General Hospital is a critical diagnostic apparatus the medical staff have long advocated for," she said.
The president of Woodfibre LNG said in the release that the company was glad to help.
"We recognize that Squamish's health care needs are growing along with its population so it's important for the community to have local access to state-of-the-art medical imaging," said Christine Kennedy, president of Woodfibre LNG Limited, in the release.
The news was also welcome for Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) Elder and local Gwen Harry, who spoke on behalf of Nation members living in the Squamish Valley,
“I am delighted that a CT scanner will be available in our community" said Harry in the release. "Squamish General Hospital opened in 1954 and has been supported over the years through the kind generosity of many. I am so pleased that Woodfibre LNG will be making this significant donation to complete the Squamish Hospital Foundation's fundraising requirements for the CT scanner."