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Area First Nations deserve applause

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Area First Nations deserve applause for taking the bull by the horns to establish a satellite dialysis unit at La Verendrye hospital here—and their determined effort to land a service so desperately needed by so many district residents warrants widespread support.

They’ve enjoyed remarkable success so far. Last week, they had raised some $267,000. At last report yesterday, the total was up to about $400,000—thanks, in part, to Saturday’s monster bingo at the Couchiching Bingo Palace.

Yes, it’s too early to start popping the champagne corks. As Riverside CEO Wayne Woods rightly point out, even if the fundraising campaign—coupled with federal dollars—comes up with the $1 million needed to purchase a dialysis unit, it’s still up to the province as to when it can be done.

And then there’s the question of money to operate the unit, including having qualified staff on hand to run it.

Still, this campaign by district aboriginal communities clearly has breathed new life into stalled—albeit admirable—efforts by Riverside Health Care Facilities Inc. over the years to lobby the Ministry of Health for dialysis service here.

Surely there can’t be any question about the need for such a service. This area, especially among the aboriginal population, faces a rate of diabetes well above the provincial average. That, in turn, translates into higher incidences of kidney disease.

And for now, those requiring dialysis face trips to Winnipeg or Thunder Bay up to three times a week—a hardship and expense they should not have to bear.

As Couchiching Chief Chuck McPherson said, we don’t consider those cities “close to home,” referring to a promise by the Harris government back in 1995 that everyone in the province should be able to get dialysis services close to home when they need them.

Our pleas have fallen on deaf ears so far. Together, we can make the ministry listen this time.

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