Imaging providers on Vancouver Island continue to struggle

Imaging providers in Vancouver Island, part of the Canadian province of British Columbia, have continued to experience issues taking care of patients in a timely matter. This week, two of the top stories on the Times Colonist, the daily newspaper of Victoria, B.C., focused on the issue.

First, the publication reported MRI wait times on Vancouver Island remain a significant problem, though there have been improvements. For instance, 90 percent of patients waiting for an MRI are waiting 296 days, which is down from 612 days exactly one year ago.

Private clinics are being brought in and paid big dollars to help the area catch up. Health officials have also used “training, retention and recruitment” to increase the number of technologists on board.

According to a second report, Vancouver Island currently has a backlog of 18,000 ultrasound orders.

Scott McCarten, director of medical imaging Vancouver Island Health Authority, told the publication this number “has been climbing” since he first took his job four months ago.

“This has been a long-standing issue that is not unique to Island Health,” McCarten said, as quoted by the Times Colonist. “It’s a provincial issue. All the health authorities are in the same boat.”

One key problem causing this backlog appears to be a lack of sonographers in British Columbia, and education programs in the area are being modified to get students through as fast as possible.