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Health and Community Services
July 11, 2013

Progress Continues on Significant Advancement in Health Care with Province’s First Ever PET/CT Scanner

An update was provided today on the progress of the province’s first PET/CT scanner and the new Molecular Imaging Program at Eastern Health. The overall project is being made possible through a $40 million investment that will provide Newfoundlanders and Labradorians with state-of-the-art technology to greatly improve the diagnosis and treatment of certain illnesses, such as cancer.

“With the addition of a PET/CT scanner to Eastern Health’s Molecular Imaging Program, we are making an important and essential investment in the health of our residents,” said the Honourable Susan Sullivan, Minister of Health and Community Services. “Our government is investing approximately $40 million to provide this new diagnostic testing, as well as to consolidate nuclear medicine services in one location at the Health Sciences Centre.”

A PET/CT scanner or positron emission and computerized tomography scanner is a vital diagnostic tool most commonly used to detect, assess and treat cancers. This technology is also used for the assessment of cardiac disease and diagnosis of some neurological disorders.

“The Molecular Imaging Program will provide our patients with access to leading-edge medical equipment that will enhance health care delivery in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Vickie Kaminski, President and CEO of Eastern Health. “With the introduction of a PET/CT scanner, patients with certain illnesses will no longer have to travel outside the province to receive this specialized procedure.”

A contract to realign the road at the Health Sciences Centre was recently awarded to Triple A Excavating Ltd. This will be the first phase of development that will include the creation of a new entrance to the emergency department of the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre and construction of a new facility to house the Molecular Imaging Program next to the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre.

“Operating our own PET/CT scanner within this province provides the people we serve with a better chance at fighting various chronic illnesses,” said Dr. Peter Hollett, Clinical Chief of Nuclear Medicine at Eastern Health. “A PET/CT scan would be able to tell a physician whether their patient’s chemotherapy is working far in advance of any other imaging techniques, it will allow physicians to monitor blood flow in the heart more effectively and will provide a means to positively diagnose Alzheimer’s from other types of dementia, which is something we cannot currently do in this province.”

The Molecular Imaging Program will also provide Eastern Health and Memorial University with additional research and teaching opportunities and assist with recruitment efforts for physicians. Eastern Health will hold public information sessions in September on the establishment of the Molecular Imaging Program at the Health Sciences Centre. For more information, please visit the Molecular Imaging Program website at www.easternhealth.ca/OurServices Opens in a new window.

“The Faculty of Medicine and Memorial University are pleased to partner with Eastern Health to fully capitalize on this significant and strategic investment by the Provincial Government,” said Dr. James Rourke, Dean of Medicine, Memorial University. “The Molecular Imaging Facility provides remarkable opportunities for research, particularly in cancer diagnosis, obesity and brain trauma. There are also educational opportunities for new or expanded programs in biomedical engineering and radiochemistry, particularly at the graduate level.”

Development of the facility is anticipated to begin later this year. It is expected that the first PET/CT scan will be offered by spring of 2015 and the Molecular Imaging Program should be in full operation by 2016.

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Media contacts:

Scott Barfoot
Director of Communications
Department of Health and Community Services
709-729-1377, 690-6290
Zelda Burt
Media Relations Manager
Eastern Health

Sharon Gray
Communication Co-ordinator
Faculty of Medicine

2013 07 11             10:10 a.m.

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