A local committee, which includes Acting Mayor Ron Aiken and former Mayors John Higham and Pat Estabrooks, is calling on the provincial minister of health to turn the Sackville Memorial Hospital into a “community hub” for health care and wellness.
“It is often said that crisis can lead to transformative change,” the committee says in the nine-page brief it sent to Dorothy Shephard on May 4th.
“New Brunswick is currently in the midst of a crisis. And we are committed to change that will, in the long term, produce better health outcomes at lower cost.”
The eight-member committee was responding to Shephard’s request for further comment following her online consultation with Tantramar residents in March.
The committee’s brief calls on the health minister to extend services at Sackville Memorial partly by increasing day surgeries to alleviate backlogs at the Moncton hospital and partly by turning the hospital into “a convalescent and rehabilitation centre for patients from larger hospitals.”
It also suggests that the hospital could serve the needs of an aging population with a new unit to assess cognitive or mental abilities and provide speech therapy for stroke patients.
The brief calls for extending palliative care for the dying as well as mental health services that it says would especially benefit high school and university students.
“Other existing services, such as diabetic counselling, diet counselling, and occupational and physiotherapy could become the nucleus of a community wellness centre,” the brief says, adding that collaboration between community leaders and medical professionals could promote healthier lifestyles to combat obesity, heart disease, alcoholism and smoking.
The committee notes that federal legislation stipulates people in rural areas should receive a comparable level of health care to those who live in cities.
“Equitable access to ambulance services in rural areas is a critically important goal,” it adds, “along with an increase in the number of paramedics with advanced training.
“In order to reflect the reality, response-time statistics for rural ambulance service need to be reported separately from those in urban centres, and Medavie-Blue Cross must be held accountable for results.”
The brief also calls for a review of ambulance fees, especially for people on low incomes.
It concludes that based on existing resources such as its miles of hiking and skiing trails, sports organizations, its arena, curling rink, swimming pool and other fitness facilities, the Tantramar region could “serve as a pilot venture in community health reform.”
To read Acting Mayor Aiken’s covering letter to the health minister, click here.
To read the committee’s full brief, click here.