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'Find our own solutions': Sask. families frustrated with lack of pediatric gastroenterologists

Sarah Turnbull and her daughter Blake visited the Saskatchewan Legislature on Monday. (Gareth Dillistone / CTV News) Sarah Turnbull and her daughter Blake visited the Saskatchewan Legislature on Monday. (Gareth Dillistone / CTV News)
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Following the resignation of the remaining pediatric gastroenterologist (GI) in Saskatchewan, families are calling on the province to get their kids the specialized treatment they need without having to travel.

Sarah Turnbull and her four-year-old daughter, Blake, joined NDP MLA Vicki Mowat on Monday at the Saskatchewan Legislature to outline the issues they have been facing.

Blake, who has problems with her liver, has been forced to get care out of province. Turnbull said they recently got back from Edmonton, where Blake needed a surgery.

“We have been to the children’s hospital in Edmonton, we’ve had surgery in Toronto, we’ve had surgery in Saskatoon, and all of that has been a process,” she said. “We really have to find our own solutions to make sure she’s getting the health care needs that she has being met.”

Turnbull said Blake does require a gastroenterologist, but has not yet seen one.

“She’s had a surgery on her bowel, without ever seeing a gastroenterologist and last we heard, we were six plus years on the wait list,” she said.

She said there has not been a solution for them in the province, and said they have to go back to Edmonton in four weeks for a post-op.

“[There’s] not the same medical services here in Saskatchewan as there is in other provinces, and that’s not right,” she said.

During question period, NDP Leader Carla Beck said the government should have been on top of things when they first heard about the specialist’s departure.

“This specialist gave ample warning about her departure,” she said. “Many families have to travel to get care their children need. How is this acceptable?” she asked.

Speaking to reporters after question period, Health Minister Paul Merriman said this is something the province is working on. He said they are hoping to bring in three gastroenterologists to the province as soon as possible.

He said in the meantime, they are reaching out to other provinces, to come to Saskatchewan to provide care.

“We need to make sure the little ones are being taken care of, that’s why we’re bringing in coverage from Alberta and Manitoba,” he said.

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