GN ponders dialysis unit


Bernie Blais, Nunavut’s deputy minister of Health and Social Services, told MLAs last week that he’s asked his staff to review “all dialysis patients going out-of-territory from Nunavut to other jurisdictions to determine whether we have sufficient patients to build a dialysis unit.”

Blais was responding to a question from Levi Barnabas, MLA for Quttiktuq, during a committee of the whole session on the department’s capital budget.

“Dialysis” is an expensive medical procedure to clean wastes and toxins from the blood of people whose kidneys can’t function.

Last spring, a man from Cape Dorset found himself stranded and homeless in Ottawa, after being sent south for dialysis, which is not offered in Nunavut.

Blais said, however, that for the time being, the department’s first priority is to find a way of offering chemotherapy to Nunavut cancer patients, starting with a pilot project in Rankin Inlet

“[O]ur hope is to expand that to build a bigger satellite chemotherapy centre in each of the three regions. And then once we have done that, then dialysis will be our next priority,” Blais said.

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