Manitoba invests $5.2M for expanded kidney disease treatment

The Manitoba government is spending nearly $5.2 million to provide dialysis services for up to 72 patients, including 30 in Winnipeg. 

New dialysis spots open in Thompson, Portage la Prairie, Winkler, Pine Falls and Hodgson

More dialysis treatment is on the way for Manitoba, which reported the highest rate of new end-stage kidney disease diagnoses anywhere in the country in 2017. (Rich Pedroncelli/The Associated Press)

The Manitoba government is spending nearly $5.2 million to provide dialysis services for up to 72 patients, including 30 in Winnipeg, and six more spaces in Thompson. 

Premier Brian Pallister and Health Minister Cameron Friesen made the announcement in the northern Mantioba city on Monday morning.

"We've expanded services here by close to 20 per cent today," he said. "You're increasing the number of stations where people are able to get dialysis, right here in the facility in Thompson, that they wouldn't have been able to get those services before."

The province will also serve six more patients experiencing kidney failure in Portage la Prairie, Winkler and Pine Falls. The health facility in Hodgson will support an eight-patient expansion. 

The government will add 57 positions, including nearly 30 nurses, to support the new spots. Health care aides, pharmacy, social services, technologists, maintenance and administrative support workers are among the positions being hired, the province said.

More in-home treatment

The funding will also expand home dialysis treatments, including a 10-patient peritoneal dialysis expansion in Winnipeg. The treatment uses the lining of a patient's abdomen to filter blood inside the body.

"Manitoba's rates of kidney failure continue to rise," said Dr. Mauro Verrelli, medical director of the Manitoba Renal Program, in a prepared statement. "This addition of funding allows these local renal health centres to utilize existing infrastructure to meet a growing need for dialysis treatment across Manitoba. When possible, we want Manitobans to receive this vital treatment at home or as close to home as possible."

Northern Health Region chief executive officer Helga Bryant, Health Minister Cameron Friesen, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, Laurette Stevens, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Relations Eileen Clarke and Thompson MLA Kelly Bindle at the announcement in Thompson of a $5.2M investment for dialysis services. (Ramraajh Sharvendiran/CBC )

Laurette Stevens, whose husband is receiving dialysis treatment in Thompson, is thrilled the province is expanding services to farther-flung communities.

She and her husband left the north a few years ago to spend eight months in Winnipeg as he received treatment.

"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," Stevens said.

"It's been a rough few years."

The province's investment expands upon the construction of a 22-station hemodialysis unit at Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, which serves up to 132 patients, and an annual $500,000 investment in Brandon to expand home peritoneal dialysis and home hemodialysis programs, the government said.

The need for dialysis treatment is growing in Manitoba. More people were diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease per capita in 2017 in Manitoba than any other Canadian province excluding Quebec, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

With files from Ramraajh Sharvendiran


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