N.B. health minister urged to upgrade Sackville hospital to community health-care hub

Sackville Memorial Hospital

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.

Enhanced services

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.

Rural ambulances

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.

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4 Responses to N.B. health minister urged to upgrade Sackville hospital to community health-care hub

  1. Sharon Hicks says:

    After reading the full brief which the committee put together and submitted to the Minister of Health, I want to mention a couple ‘gaps’ which I noted in their recommendations.

    First, the list of clinics included a “well-women clinic” among the various other specifics, but there is no mention anywhere in the brief about any services for children, such as a “well-baby clinic”, or a “well-child clinic”. I would think that having such an entity in place would certainly be an attractive feature for young families who are considering moving to our area.

    With such a long waiting list in our province to obtain a family physician, newcomers to the area with either babies or small children might think twice about locating here if they were uncertain where to go to obtain basic health-care for their youngsters for the first few years of their life – while waiting to obtain access to a family doctor. I know it would deter me, if I was still of that age group – if I foresaw regular trips to Moncton for my babies and young children, I might decide it would be more efficient to just locate in Moncton and save all the extra travel time.

    Also of benefit for young families would be the resumption of basic Obstetric services here in our own hospital. For the past number of years, since that service in our local hospital was eliminated, mothers have to drive to either Moncton or to Amherst to deliver their babies. For mothers delivering during winter months, especially during a snowstorm (and we all know that happens more often than we’d like), this presents a significant travel challenge. This too could be a potential deterrent to young familes, or young couples wanting to start a family, from locating here in Sackville.

    Otherwise, I felt the suggestions in the brief were well thought-out and well presented. The needs of a growing senior demographic, for example, and those of the significant student population, seem to be well-considered and thoughtfully included in the overall picture.

    I’m just disappointed that they didn’t go quite as far as they could have, by omitting any mention of services for the youngest demographic – ie: newborns and young children.

  2. Alice Cotton says:

    I recognize the name of one retired physician on the committee, but I would like to know if doctors and hospital administrators were consulted for this report. It looks like a wish list, without major involvement of doctors and nurses and those who work in the health care industry in Sackville.

  3. IndieMediaEastcoast Canada says:

    Tantramar Hospital … possibly a new image … a place serving the needs of the larger region and also letting more people opt out of regular “healthcare” in favour of more natural and holistic healthcare… then you might have a winner here.. and a draw for your ‘growing the region’ yen… Until people accept the need for a broader range of ‘care’ in the region they’re gonna be idling here.. why not become a centre for healing instead of Rockefeller Medicine? Holistic and naturopathic medicine is the way of the future… get Big Pharma out of our government expenses and the money will be freed up for more beneficial and natural treatments that are currently not being used and recommended because of the dominance of pharmaceutical industries.

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