Lions Gate Hospital receives $1M donation for new MRI machine

North Vancouver is now home to a brand new MRI machine thanks to a $1 million donation to the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation from property management and development company Hollyburn Properties.

The new piece of equipment and its advanced software replaces a 14-year-old MRI at Lions Gate Hospital, offering medical staff the ability to complete faster and more accurate diagnostic scans.

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Dr. Kevin Rowan, head of diagnostic imaging at Lions Gate, says he’s “exceedingly happy” with the new scanner, installed and up and running for the last month,

“The update gives us higher quality images for better diagnostics,” he says.

Lions Gate’s digital imaging department sees more than 7,000 patients annually for magnetic resonance imaging, which uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed pictures of the body’s organs and structures. Rowan says the new state-of-the-art machine will improve their diagnostic capabilities when treating patients affected by sports or musculoskeletal injuries, those needing MRIs of the brain in light of multiple sclerosis, brain tumours or strokes, as well as when investigating disc herniations and spinal traumas.

“If you’ve ever been in an MRI, the quickest of scans takes maybe 20 minutes. We can now optimize our sequences so we can make scans quicker. People who are claustrophobic or uncomfortable in the scanner will be more comfortable,” he says.

The new machine is also much quieter than older machines, further adding to patient comfort.

When asked how important it is for hospitals to continue to upgrade their machinery, Rowan says “it’s absolutely vital. Most of these pieces of equipment, we use them so vigorously. Our MRI scanner is going probably about 16 or 17 hours a day every day and our CT scanner is almost running 24 hours, so these machines take a lot of punishment.”

The North Vancouver hospital is the first in Canada to employ the latest generation in MRI technology, the GE Signa Explorer, according to the foundation. “Being up to date on these things, we can be a show site. So other hospital groups can come by and talk to us and take a look at our images and our equipment and decide what they want to do with their departments. It’s nice to be a leader in our field in that way,” says Rowan.

The price tag for the new piece of equipment was approximately $1 million, taking into account the cost of the machine itself, renovations and software package updates.

Rowan says his department has been very generously funded by the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation for years.

“I’ve been here for 12 years and all of our big equipment purchases have been through the foundation so it’s absolutely fantastic. We could not be a cutting-edge radiology department without our foundation,” he says.

The department was able to purchase a new CT scanner a year ago funded by the foundation, they’re in the process of replacing one of their X-ray machines and they’re currently working on replacing all of their ultrasound machines again all through foundation donations.

“It’s really great to have the community helping out, funding the machines. … The community involvement is what makes this hospital what it is. We’re second to none as far as hospitals in the province, the country and even the world I would think as far as what we do here and what we’re capable of, the patient care we offer. It all comes back to the community. The community donates and we give back and it all works out,” says Rowan.

Karen Sander, head of corporate social responsibility and charitable giving for Hollyburn Properties, a family-run company, says they’re proud members of the North Shore community. “It’s where we live, it’s where we run our business, it’s where we’re raising our families and it’s very important to us to contribute and make it a great place to live now and in the future,” she says.

Hollyburn, a rental housing provider and builder, was founded on the North Shore 41 years ago by Karen’s father Stephen Sander, 82, a West Vancouver resident. The company has continued to grow and currently has 84 high rise rental buildings across Canada (in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa). Its head office is currently in Vancouver.

“Hollyburn really wants to be an active community partner. They want to invest in the future and they’ve got a longstanding history of being active community members,” she says.

Hollyburn has supported other North Shore initiatives, including the North Vancouver City Library, but the MRI scanner marks the first time it’s supported Lions Gate Hospital.

“It really came about through my dad’s personal experience. He’s in his mid-80s and having some health issues. During his experiences at the hospital he saw that there was some needs for upgrades and technology and that there were these huge lineups. He saw this as being an opportunity to support a great institution that impacts so many people’s lives,” says Karen.

“The MRI especially was something that we realized would cut across all the different sectors of medicine and have an impact for many people no matter what their illness,” she adds.

Hollyburn hopes the donation is the first of many to hospitals across the country.

“My father has reached that stage in his life where he’s wanting to be more philanthropic. This opportunity came up so we’re looking to make some more donations and work with hospitals in other communities where we work,” says Karen.

Stephen is a Sikh from the Punjab Province of northern India. He experienced the Partition of India, and became a refugee, losing his home. “They lost everything. I think it’s an interesting and empowering story because he managed to come to Canada as an immigrant, as a teacher, and he came with nothing. He really wanted to assimilate and be part of the Canadian culture and I think it’s just a fantastic story to share,” says Karen.

After moving to Canada in the 1960s, Stephen raised his family and built his business here, “and was able to benefit so much by Canada and then now is able to contribute and give so much back,” she says.

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