With the recent approval of an MRI machine being fundraised, the goal of bringing one to the Southeast draws closer. 

"It's vital really. It's super important having this kind of equipment right here close to home. It helps tremendously with everything; with the wait times, with the travel times. It does provide more jobs for our community and for our young people entering into healthcare," Lori Gervais, Executive Director of St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation, said. 

According to data provided by the SJHF and the Saskatchewan Health Authority, in Estevan alone, 1,601 patients needed MRI services between 2022 and 2023 (the latest available). With the closest MRI facility being in Regina, the Southeast health region tops the average wait time with 120 days, compared to other regions throughout the province. 

"Currently, there is a significant gap in MRI facilities within the Saskatchewan Southeast Health Network resulting in over 1600 patients per year needing to travel. Any of us down here need to travel a minimum of 200 kilometres, if not more, for these MRI services."

The project has already been partially funded. Elaine Walkom committed $2 million to bring the machine and the personnel needed to Estevan. Estevan MLA Lori Carr noted that once the new machine becomes operational, the provincial government will provide ongoing financial support to keep the machine running. 

"I'm expecting the community is going to be behind this 100 percent. Whenever it comes to fundraising and the community, we've had unbelievable support over the years in my five-and-a-half years with the foundation," Gervais shared.

"It never ceases to amaze me to see the people come out in droves to support whatever the necessary mission is at the time. This one being the MRI is going to reach far out beyond the community." 

"Estevan's like our hub, which serves the whole southeast. So everybody there can be a little happier about this now and keep your fingers crossed that we can get it up and running sooner than anticipated," Walkom expressed in an interview with DiscoverEstevan. 

The full proposal and ways to donate to the cause can be found at https://www.sjhf.org/mriforestevan