Sackville councillor Shawn Mesheau says that if he’s elected mayor in the municipal elections on May 10th, he’ll work to establish a local hospital committee to act as a voice for the Tantramar region’s health care needs.
“It would be a group that would do annual reviews of the services and the effectiveness of the services for the area that are available at the hospital,” Mesheau said today in a telephone interview.
He added that the committee could be made up of various groups including older people, other community members and health-care professionals who would work closely with existing organizations such as the hospital auxiliary and foundation.
“The way I look at this is if the province is hesitant in going back to more localized [health] boards across the province, then maybe what’s happening here in Tantramar-Memramcook and Sackville becomes a pilot,” Mesheau said.
He added that the biggest hurdle would be getting the Horizon Health Network to recognize the committee as being a voice for the region.
Communities forced to react
Mesheau’s proposal for a local hospital committee is included in a news release he issued yesterday as part of his mayoralty campaign.
He says he’s encouraged that Premier Higgs has promised 24-hour hospital emergency room services will be maintained, but feels that under the present system, local communities are always being forced to react when the Horizon Health Network and the provincial government announce changes.
He adds that a regional hospital committee could work with the centralized authorities on behalf of local needs.
“It’s got to start here and we have to have that connection, we have to have the connection through to the Health Authority and the minister of health,” he says, “to ensure that the message is delivered that here’s what we’re doing, here’s where we need to go.”
Mesheau emphasized that while he would work as Sackville’s mayor to establish a local hospital committee, it would include representatives from other communities such as Cape Tormentine, Port Elgin, Memramcook and Dorchester.
He says he learned first-hand about the needs in some of those communities in one of the break-out sessions during the online health-care consultation held last Thursday.
“Transportation became an issue because of folks being able to access health care within their own community, but when they can’t access those specialized services, how do they get from point A to point B,” he adds.
Mesheau’s news release praises health professionals after his own brush with kidney cancer about 10 years ago.
“It’s a little emotional for me,” he said today when he was asked what he learned from the experience.
“My specialist was A-1, the staff were supportive, I’d never gone through major surgery before in my life and it was quite an ordeal, but what I learned is that we’re pretty fortunate in our town and in our province to have the health care that we have.”
Mesheau says his doctor discovered a tumour while treating him for kidney stones.
He was able to meet with his specialist at the Sackville hospital where he also received X-rays and blood tests.
He underwent a four-hour operation to remove the tumour in the Moncton Hospital, then spent about four days there recovering.
“Health care was there when I needed it,” Mesheau says.
“People say that kidney stones are very painful, but in this case, it might have saved my life.”