The premier and the health minister were in Thompson March 18 to announced $5.2 million in new funding – $2.4 million of in the 2019 fiscal year – for inpatient dialysis treatment in Thompson and elsewhere across the province.
As a result, inpatient dialysis treatment in Thompson will expand from 34 to 40 spaces. There will also be an eight-patient expansion in Hodgson, six-patient expansions in Pine Falls, Portage la Prairie and at Boundary Trails Health Centre, and a 30-patient expansion in Winnipeg.
“It’s important to have that treatment here and that need for treatment, for dialysis grows throughout our province and in many northern communities grows at a faster rate than it does in some of the southern communities,” said Premier Brian Pallister during a press conference at the Northern Regional Health Authority (NRHA) administration building in Thompson. “That will bring dialysis treatment to a total of 40 patients. There is also going to be additional support for home dialysis treatment. Many patients are able to receive that care without having to travel."
About 14 per cent of Manitobans have kidney disease and up to a third of those people may develop kidney failure in their lifetime.
“Right now in Manitoba 1,700 people are receiving these life-giving services,” said Healtyh, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen. “That includes almost 400 at home. It is a challenge to deal with what is an increasing concern around kidney disease. Expanding dialysis services makes it easier for Manitobans living with kidney disease and kidney failure to get the care that they need.”
NRHA CEO Helga Bryant said bringing dialysis care to patients is the future of health care in Manitoba.
“I hear repeatedly that treatment closer to home is what patients and their families desire,” said Bryant. “The support of families is co critical.”
The impact that kidney disease and the need for dialysis treatment can have on those affected by it and their families was underscored by Lorette Stevens, who lived in South Indian Lake before her husband developed kidney disease about four years ago.
“When my husband first got sick I was working in South Indian,” Stevens said. “He was living here and I was living in South Indian. I had to leave my job, leave my home to be able to come look after him here. He started with home dialysis first and that didn’t work out. We had to go to Winnipeg for him to be able to get hemodialysis. We stayed in Winnipeg for about eight months before he got a transfer here. That was a long time for us to be away from family and really affected us. We ended up losing our place. We ended up losing our vehicle because none of us could work because we had to be in Winnipeg for him in order for him to be able to get his treatment. It’s been a rough few years. He’s been really tough through it and he deals with it now.”
The new dialysis funding will be used to hire more nursing staff and other staff that are essential to providing care, said Pallister.
“This investment in dialysis means a lot to the people in the north and the citizens of Thompson,” said Thompson MLA Kelly Bindle. “It will improve health care and it’s part of the way we’re transforming the health care system, improving it and modernizing it.”