Northern Health will be phasing-out film-based mammography machines as soon as 2018 that could change screening and diagnostic testing at the Bulkley Valley District Hospital.

Northwest Medical Director with Northern Health Jaco Fourie says there will be no changes to the capacity of screening in Smithers with the use of the mobile service.

He says no decisions have been made.

“At the end of the day for women, it is the issue of convenience and travel to Terrace. A decision will probably be made by 2018,” says Fourie.

With women using the hospital in town for some diagnostic testing right now, he says there’s many that travel to Terrace already for additional testing. If Northern Health doesn’t bring a digital machine to the hospital, Fourie indicates that all diagnostic testing will have to be done in Terrace.

The cost of a new digital mammography machine at the hospital would come in at around $1.1 million. Fourie says with the current machine running under capacity, the decision will come down to costs.

He also says Northern Health will only move ahead with expanded ultrasound at the hospital if they don’t install a digital mammogram unit.