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Saskatoon boy with Crohn's disease left to suffer after GI specialist leaves


A Saskatoon mother has been left wondering what to do about her son's stomach pains after the province's last remaining pediatric gastroenterologist resigned.

"I can't tell you how hard it is to have my son in tears because his stomach is bothering him so much, and not having that specialist to reach out to," Krista Reid said about her nine-year-old son.

"It's scary."

Casten Boyer was admitted to Jim Pattison Children's Hospital in April after experiencing severe stomach pains. He stayed there for more than a week, but because there are no more pediatric gastroenterologists working in Saskatchewan, Boyer could not be treated and he went to Edmonton for care.

He was soon diagnosed with Crohn's disease. Doctors in Edmonton advised to follow up with a specialist every two months. Reid called the clinic to confirm the first follow-up appointment earlier this month when she was told it was cancelled because Alberta Health has been instructing specialists not to treat Saskatchewan patients because the province won't cover the costs.

In a statement to CTV News, the Sask. Ministry of Health is trying to work on an agreement with the province of Alberta to cover patients who need to travel there to see a pediatric gastroenterologist.

"When patients are referred out-of-province for care by a local provider as part of the SHA pathways, it is important to ensure that pre-approval steps are taken as not all services may be covered by interprovincial agreements," the statement said. "Travel, transportation and accommodations to access care in another province is not covered as an insured service."

The province said the Saskatchewan Health Authority is "actively recruiting" to fill three pediatric gastroenterologist vacancies.

Reid says the pain her son experiences is affecting all aspects of his life.

"He's having a lot of symptoms still to this day that are adding even more of a burden, especially to his mental health," Reid said. "Honestly, when I found out that we couldn't go to Edmonton anymore, he started crying because he felt so frustrated."

Reid and Boyer were joined by Saskatchewan NDP leader Carla Beck, who said the province could have avoided this outcome with the amount of notice given.

"Healthcare solely is a responsibility of this provincial government, who has known for over a year that we were about to lose our last gastroenterologist in the province," Beck said.

"This is a problem they've known existed for a very long time."

Vicki Mowat, the opposition health critic, said there are roughly 1,800 professional healthcare job vacancies in Saskatchewan right now.

"This is on the government to fix," Beck said.

Reid says she has no options left to seek care. She was told the province was going to pay a specialist from Winnipeg to work in Saskatchewan for one week every two months, but she was unable to get Boyer on the waitlist to see this specialist.

"(The province) told us that they had a plan for families. They told us that the waitlist was not being canceled. They told us that the temporary locum would solve these problems, but Krista standing here today is clear evidence that that plan is not working," Mowat said.

The province has yet to respond to CTV News' request for a comment.

Reid said she's running out of options to find the help her boy needs, and she's frustrated she isn't able to access healthcare in Edmonton as his pain becomes more unbearable.

"I'm trying to be strong, I'm trying to advocate, but it's hard," Reid said. Top Stories

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