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Dialysis patient can get treatment close to home after Manitoba, Sask. work out deal

There's a dialysis clinic in Flin Flon, Man., but or the last eight months Maureen McBratney has had to stay in Saskatoon — a 600 kilometre drive from her home — to get dialysis, because there was no agreement between provinces in place that would allow her to get treatment in Manitoba.

Sask. woman couldn't access treatment close to home because clinic is just across Man. border

Maureen and Greg McBratney can finally go home to Denare Beach after finding out she will be able to receive dialysis treatment in Flin Flon.

Maureen McBratney can't wait to embrace her five-year-old grandson.

Last year, McBratney nearly died from extreme kidney failure, but doctors and nurses were able to save her life. Now she needs life-saving dialysis treatment every other day.

McBratney's home is in Denare, Sask., about 20 minutes away from Flin Flon , Man.

There's a dialysis clinic in Flin Flon, but for the last eight months McBratney has had to stay in Saskatoon — a more than 500-kilometre drive from her home — to get dialysis, because there was no agreement between provinces in place that would allow her to get treatment in Manitoba.

"We've had really good places to stay and made some really good friends, but nothing is really like being at home," said McBratney, choking up while talking about what she has missed not being at home.

"I missed [my grandson's] first day of kindergarten, the first Halloween parade. Just those things that you don't get to do."

The McBratney family and supporters have been pushing health authorities and MLAs to find a way to make dialysis in Flin Flon a possibility. Now that work has paid off.

The provinces have worked out a deal that gives Saskatchewan residents access to the dialysis unit in Flin Flon. McBratney and her husband, Greg, can finally go home.

WATCH | Dialysis patient reacts to news she'll go home after 8 months:

'Grandma's coming home': Dialysis patient reacts to news she'll go home after 8 months

1 day ago

Duration 0:48

Denare Beach, Sask., resident Maureen McBratney cried when she learned she could receive dialysis across the border in Flin Flon, Man. For eight months, she's been receiving dialysis in Saskatoon , more than 500 kilometres from her home.

In a statement to CBC, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health said the two provinces are working collaboratively with each other to increase access to their respective kidney health and renal programs.

"Through this collaboration, Manitoba Health has agreed to provide access to renal dialysis spots in Flin Flon for two Saskatchewan patients," said a statement emailed to CBC from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health. "It is anticipated this will minimize the burden of travel for these patients and their families, and provide care closer to home."

A spokesperson for Manitoba's Northern Health Region said finding dialysis seats at Flin Flon General Hospital for Saskatchewan patients has been a goal in the past year.

"Expansion needs were recognized after local population, patients, and elected officials in the area of Flin Flon brought this critical patient care initiative forward," the spokesperson said.

McBratney said it was very emotional to know she and her husband would be able to return home.

"I think we both cried for about 15 or 20 minutes," she said. "Then it was, 'now we have to phone our kids.' We phoned [their daughter] Paige, told her the good news on video call, and she immediately started to cry."

McBratney said her grandson came to ask why his mother was crying, and she told him the good news.

"Then he had to break into song and dance, which made my day."

McBratney said it has been frustrating being unable to receive treatment in Flin Flon.

"I found [it] very bizarre to say the least, because that's where my family physician's office is. That's where I get my blood tests. That's where I get X-rays. I can get everything else there except dialysis."

They began a letter writing campaign with the help of their daughter, Paige, while their son looked after their home.

"It was a really combined effort. My daughter Paige is an amazing letter writer and got every name that she could possibly think of on both sides of the border and sent letters to ministers of everybody, everybody that you could possibly think of that might have an in," McBratney said.

Erin Schimpf, the director of kidney health, Saskatoon (North) at Saskatchewan Health Authority, also advocated for her, as did other health professionals and politicians, she said.

"A small world," McBratney said. "I knew [Schimpf] when she was a young teenager. I was her Girl Guide leader in Flin Flon. And she took it upon herself to take up the battle."

In the end, it was Schimpf who gave McBratney the good news.

"There was a lot of bits and pieces that needed to all completely fall into place," McBratney said. "And it finally did."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Scott Larson works for CBC News in Saskatoon. scott.larson@cbc.ca

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