Residents in Estevan and the surrounding area are expressing concern over the province's decision to decline an offer of a $2 million donation for an MRI machine in Estevan.

The issue was brought up at the tail end of Estevan city council's Monday night meeting. Councillors Tony Sernick and Travis Frank reported receiving numerous inquiries about the province declining to accept the donation.

"Most of the inquires wanted to know if it was true," said Sernick. "It is true, and I can just say that the City and the surrounding RMs are showing their support for it; for the government to reverse their decision."

An August 23 letter from the RM of Browning No. 34's council to then-Health Minister Paul Merrim's office that was circulating on social media on Monday stated that Elaine Walkom offered "to donate $2 million to the province for the purchase of an MRI scanner to be installed and operated in Estevan" in a March 23 letter to the Ministry of Health.

The RM of Browning's letter said the ministry sent a letter back on May 31 declining Walkom's donation.

The RM's council wrote that the ministry's letter "stated that there are several factors for determining the location of potential MRI locations including but not limited to population, distance of patients from facilities, service volumes, staffing and wait times. We have analyzed the map of the province of Saskatchewan and determined that the most logical location for an MRI machine in southeast Saskatchewan is in Estevan.

"The continued conversation of having provincial services in Weyburn over Estevan is not beneficial to the Estevan area as residents of Weyburn currently has (sic) MRI services available in acceptable driving distance of Moose Jaw and Regina. Even if an MRI scanner were to be installed in Weyburn, there would unfortunately still be communities in southeast Saskatchewan closer to MRI scanners in North Dakota, USA.

"We cannot logically understand the decision of the Ministry of Health to decline the offer of Ms. Walkom as her donation would not only be sufficient to provide the service, but will be in a location of the province in dire need of better MRI services. There are certainly other locations that require MRI services just as much as Estevan, but this donation would adequately provide a service that the province can not afford to decline anywhere."

"As our community knows, we raised the money for the CT scan and a year's funding, and now, thanks to the goodwill of Elaine Walkom, she's [willing] to pay the bulk of the MRI," said Estevan Mayor Roy Ludwig. "So hopefully with the community support. I did talk to our MLA [Lori] Carr and she does want it to go through. I appreciate that this council sent her to the hospital board. Now it'll be going through there and their comments. I understand, I hope, it'll be coming back to us. And hopefully by that time, she will be giving it the attention that it deserves."

DiscoverEstevan reached out to the province but did not immediately hear back.

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