Nova Scotia

N.S. to pay some expenses for out-of-province care

A mother from Bridgewater, N.S., says she's overjoyed the province has agreed to pay for travel and accommodation expenses for parents who accompany a child out-of-province to receive medical care.
Shannon Price's daughter, Chelsea White, was born with a rare neurological disorder and must travel to California for treatment. (CBC)

A mother from Bridgewater, N.S., says she's overjoyed the province has agreed to pay for travel and accommodation expenses for parents who accompany a child out-of-province to receive medical care.

Shannon Price's daughter, Chelsea White, was born with a rare neurological disorder that has produced a mass of tangled blood vessels in her brain. If they bleed, six-year-old Chelsea could have a stroke or die.

A specialist in California has offered to perform a life-saving operation and remove the mass — a procedure no one in Canada can perform.

Price said Friday that the provincial government's announcement was the news she had been wanting to hear — that many of her expenses will be covered when she accompanies her daughter to California.

"It's a huge relief to know that we'll be reimbursed for my airfare and my hotel while we're there," she told CBC News.

The province had initially agreed to pay Chelsea's medical expenses and her airfare, but not her mother's.

Gary Ramey, the ministerial assistant to Health and Wellness Minister Maureen MacDonald, announced Friday that the province will expand the existing Travel and Accommodations Assistance Policy to include increased support for family members.

"When your child or loved one is sick, there is nothing more important than being by their side," Ramey said in a statement.

"Today's announcement will allow families to focus on the treatment and recovery of their loved one without the burden of worrying about travel and accommodation expenses."

$1,000 per round trip

Under the policy, transportation and accommodation costs will be covered for parents or caregivers accompanying a child under the age of 18 who has been approved for out-of-province medical care.

Even if the patient is older than 18, transportation costs will be covered if the procedure is deemed medically necessary.

The Department of Health and Wellness will provide a maximum of $1,000 per round trip to a maximum of 12 trips each year to assist travel costs. It will also give $125 per day for living expenses while the person is out of the country.

"If there's a medical condition that's not treatable here, that's what will be done," said Ramey, who is Price's MLA.

Shannon Price said she's particularly pleased the change will be a permanent one that will benefit not just her, but other families.

"I think that's what I'm most excited about because not everybody can fundraise and not everybody will have the support," said Price.

"At least now if they can't get people to help them fundraise or whatever, they might be able to even go to a bank and get a loan because the bank will know that the money's coming back so it's phenomenal."

The new rules take effect June 1, just in time for Chelsea's trip to California.

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