The first magnetic resonance imaging machine in Canada’s Yukon territory has opened at Whitehorse General Hospital through the combined efforts of the Yukon government, the Yukon Hospital Corporation, and the local community. Yukon Premiere Darrell Pasloski appeared with Health and Social Services Minister Doug Graham, Yukon Hospital Corporation Chair Craig Tuton and Yukon Hospital Foundation (YHF) Chair Curtis Shaw at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 13 to celebrate the opening of the machine’s new building. The machine is expected to perform about 1,800 exams per year.

The Whitehorse General Hospital ribbon cutting ceremony featured left to right Yukon Hospital Foundation Chair Curtis Shaw Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski Yukon Hospital Corporation Chair Craig Tuton and Yukon Health and Social Services Minister Doug Graham

The Whitehorse General Hospital ribbon-cutting ceremony featured (left to right) Yukon Hospital Foundation Chair Curtis Shaw; Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski; Yukon Hospital Corporation Chair Craig Tuton; and Yukon Health and Social Services Minister Doug Graham.

“We are incredibly proud to add MRI to our first-class diagnostic services as it can be used to evaluate with precision a wide range of conditions,” Tuton said. “With the new facility, Yukoners have a comfortable environment in which to receive the very best care, closer to home. This means improved and timelier access to an important test, which will result in less travel and quicker diagnosis—an overall more positive patient experience.”

The Siemens Magnetom Aera 1.5T MRI scanner was purchased with $2 million raised during a campaign led by the YHF. The Yukon government matched these funds, and contributed an additional $2.8 million for construction of the facility to house the scanner. Siemens hired a third-party contractor, West Med, to build the structure, which was completed ahead of schedule. The first patient exams are scheduled to begin next week.

“I think Yukoners got behind this effort because we all know of someone who has had to travel out of territory for care and be away from family during a significant test or treatment,” says Shaw. “We cannot thank the community enough for its generosity in making this new MRI program a reality and ensuring quality health care is available right here at home.”

Top photo caption: The MRI room at Whitehorse General Hospital is one of the first facilities in Canada to feature custom ceiling art to soothe and distract patients during their procedures. Pictured above the scanner is a backlit photo of the Northern Lights over Two Moose Lake, Yukon.