Maureen and Greg McBratney, a couple from Denare Beach, Sask., who have been stranded in Saskatoon since September 2023, will soon be making their way home.
Maureen needed dialysis treatments and wasn’t able to get them at Flin Flon General Hospital without a Manitoba health card.
“I hold a Saskatchewan health card. I cannot receive dialysis (in Flin Flon), which I need three times a week,” she said. “So, we have been here ever since trying to figure out a way to go home.”
After eight months and 600 kilometres away in Saskatoon, they finally figured that out. The McBratneys’ daughter Paige Baschuk helped advocate for her mother and it eventually worked in their favour. Baschuk along with others advocated for months with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health, the Manitoba Northern Regional Health Authority and Manitoba’s Renal Program to discuss a special arrangement for hemodialysis care.
“I don’t think anyone thought it was going to take this long to make such a change that everyone knew needed to happen,” Baschuk said.
Maureen’s kidneys began to fail in June 2023, and she was rushed to Flin Flon General Hospital, which is typically a 20-minute drive from her home near Saskatoon’s border with Manitoba.
She was then flown 600 kilometres away to Saskatoon to receive the initial emergency dialysis treatment.
In the fall, Manitoba Shared Health confirmed it was working toward a solution to McBratney’s situation.
“Current regulations, including professional licensing restrictions for physicians and staff, govern how and when provincial health care can be delivered to patients living in another province,” a statement from Shared Health read.
Being away from home and living in a different city was hard on the McBratneys but what was even more difficult was being away from family.
“We have been away from our family. We have missed so many firsts in our only grandchild’s life,” Maureen said. “(We missed) his first day kindergarten, his first Halloween parade, parent interviews that grandmas can now come to, apparently. So, I missed that. All those little things that you never really get back. Yes, we video called daily, but just not quite the same thing as having him on your knee, reading a book or playing a game.”
Maureen will receive her first dialysis treatment in Flin Flon on Feb. 26, a very special day for her.
“My birthday. What a better gift!” she said. “I get to go home.”
— with files from Brooke Kruger