On Wednesday, May 22, in Question Period, I asked the government to consider helping Niki Dumas get out of province coverage for a procedure which is not available in Manitoba. Ms Dumas has a condition – intestinal malrotation – for which surgical treatment is only available in Cleveland in the United States. Another Manitoba with intestinal rotation has already been referred there, has had the surgical treatment and is doing well.
Out-of-Country Health-Care Case - Manitoba Health Coverage Request
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, in the gallery today, along with many supporters, is Niki Dumas. She has had difficulty since birth with the digestion of foods and abdominal pain. Finally, about three years ago she was diagnosed as having intestinal malrotation, a condition in which the intestine is rotated within the abdomen in the opposite direction from normal. She needs a surgical procedure to connect the malrotation, a procedure which is only available in Cleveland, Ohio.
Will the Minister of Health provide the support for Niki Dumas to get the surgery she needs?
Hon. Rochelle Squires (Acting Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living): While our government certainly does sympathize with the health challenges that Ms. Dumas speaks, I am very cognizant of privacy and so I do not want to be talking about very specifics in a public manner. But I can assure the member and assure the Legislature that health officials have reached out to obtain the necessary information regarding Ms. Dumas's situation and will be following the process diligently.
Madam Speaker: The honourable member for River Heights, on a supplementary question.
Mr. Gerrard: Because of her condition, Niki Dumas has spent much of the last three years in hospital in Brandon or in the Health Sciences Centre. For the last three years she's been on tube feeding because she can't take food by mouth. Helping Niki Dumas to receive the surgery she needs will save a lot of pain and discomfort and may save her life. It will also save a lot of health-care dollars because the hospital care and tube feeding are expensive.
I ask again: Will the Minister of Health agree that Niki should have the operation she needs and that it should be supported by Manitoba Health?
Ms. Squires: Once again, I can assure the member that once the required information has been received by the department they can put the necessary processes into place to consider her request. But if this member would like to be a full partner in health care and providing health care for his constituent in the gallery and all Manitobans, I suggest he pick up the phone and call his federal cousins to restore the funding arrangement that they once had when they were a 25 per cent funding partner in health care. That's down to 18 per cent. I'd suggest that he talk to his federal counterparts about that.
Madam Speaker: The honourable member for River Heights, on a final supplementary.
Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker, along her journey with her condition, Niki Dumas found out about the operation in Cleveland which has the potential to dramatically improve her life. She mentioned this to the family of another Manitoban with intestinal malrotation. He was able to be supported by Manitoba Health to go to Cleveland to get the operation. He has now received the operation and is doing well. Niki would like to be treated equally with him and to be supported to go to Cleveland, Ohio, to get the operation she needs. In the last five days she has come from Carberry to get help.
Will the minister meet with Niki Dumas and her family right after question period?
Ms. Squires: Our government is always willing to meet with Manitobans and talk to Manitobans about their specific health challenges. Our government is very committed to building a better health care system. That is why we invested $414 million more this year than the NDP ever did. That is why we hired sixty–78, pardon me, new doctors this year, which is the second highest number of doctors recruited in the province of Manitoba in a decade. We're bringing in more doctors than the NDP ever did. Wait times are decreasing more than ever before. We are getting better health care sooner, and our government is committed to continuing to work on behalf of all Manitobans to build a better health-care system.