In an ongoing effort to bolster its local hospital, the Municipality of Killarney-Turtle Mountain and the Killarney Foundation earmarked $1 million for a new CT scanner — but the cash was refused by the regional health authority.
Prairie Mountain Health believes there are enough CT scanners in the area with wait times seemingly decreasing across the region.
Manitobans living in the southwest corner of the province must travel 60 minutes to the Brandon Regional Health Centre or 90 minutes to the Boundary Trails Health Centre in Winkler in the Southern Health Authority — below the two-hour travel time standard set out by the province.
"(The scanner) would help the region, it would help us bring doctors and people that want to move here and stay here," Killarney Coun. Gwen Tripp said. "They expect people to drive a long way to get help, but it’s kind of just like the southwest corner has been ignored."
The Killarney Foundation Inc., a charity that manages local endowment funds, said it would contribute $250,000 for the new CT scanner at the Tri-lake Health Centre while the Killarney and District Community Development Corp. promised $750,000.
"There is nothing in the southwest corner," Tripp said. "We’re willing to pay for this and we get denied."
Elective CT scan wait times, according to Prairie Mountain Health, hover around the six-week mark and wait times across the province "are very good," said Paul Penner, chief operating officer of Diagnostic Services of Manitoba, the not-for-profit corporation responsible for all of Manitoba’s public lab services and rural imaging services.
"We have capacity, we have lots of capacity, so the installation of a new service in Killarney for a CT, from our perspective, was not a good use of resources," Penner said.
The $1 million would barely be enough money to purchase the machine and wouldn’t cover installation. Penner said it would cost an estimated $350,000 per year to operate.
He also argued adding another CT scanner to the area would create holes in the scheduling causing other issues.
Prairie Mountain Health CEO Penny Gilson could not be reached for comment, but in a statement, the health authority said it "continues to work with local Killarney Health Centre leadership on areas the staff feel would improve or enhance their work environment."
With the money, the RHA said they will discuss adding other additional equipment, facility renovations or improving information and communications technology at the Killarney site.
"Staff are actively putting together some specifics on some of these areas to present to the community," the statement read.
Killarney Turtle Mountain Mayor Rick Pauls argues the RHA is only thinking short term and he isn’t convinced the need for CT scans won’t increase in the future.
"This would be good for the southwest corner," he said. "We’re trying to do it for the region, we’re trying to provide some extra services for the region, but it seems there’s never any money for anything for the region.
"So we said we’d put up the money."
Pauls has been vocal as of late about the area’s desire to increase it’s hospital’s capacity and this isn’t the first time he has picked a battle with the regional health authority. When the Brandon Regional Health Centre canvassed surrounding municipalities to help with upgrades earlier this year, Pauls’ refusal was loud and he called the request "ridiculous" and would rather spend money increasing local capacity.
As for the health authority’s refusal to take the cash for the CT scanner now, Pauls is convinced there’s more at play.
"This is 100 per cent a political move where they are neglecting southwest Manitoba yet again," he said. "They do it when it comes to infrastructure projects in the area, they do it when it comes to flood mitigation in the area and they do it when it comes to health care."
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 21, 2014