Horizon closing beds at Sackville Memorial Hospital

The Horizon Health Network has notified community leaders that it is temporarily closing all of its short-term beds at the Sackville Memorial Hospital.

In an e-mail sent yesterday, Horizon said that patients who require acute-care beds will be transferred to the Moncton Hospital and that the beds in Sackville will be used instead for patients who are waiting for placement in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities.

The Horizon e-mail says the action was necessary because of  an ongoing shortage of nurses.

“We remain committed to resuming acute care at Sackville Memorial Hospital and will continue to work with you to help recruit nurses and physicians to your area,” the message adds.

This latest change follows Horizon’s decision to close all of the Sackville hospital’s evening and overnight emergency room services beginning on November 19th. It means that the Sackville ER is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and that people who need evening or overnight emergency services must go to another hospital.

‘Sad’ and ‘discouraging’

Former Sackville Mayor Pat Estabrooks, who now serves as Chair of the Sackville Hospital Foundation, says the e-mail announcing the closing of short-term, acute-care beds arrived out of the blue on Friday afternoon just before one o’clock.

“This makes me so angry,” Estabrooks says, adding she suspects it was deliberately sent at a time when it might not be noticed.

“They must have known about these staffing problems well before Friday at noon,” she says.

Estabrooks, who is also a member of the Rural Health Action Group that is fighting to keep services at smaller, rural hospitals, says that in spite of its denials, the Higgs government seems to be implementing plans first announced by Horizon in February 2020.

At the time, the premier backtracked on closing overnight ERs and short-term beds after hundreds joined rallies at the Sackville hospital to protest against the moves.

Similar protests in five other rural communities seemed to persuade the then-minority Conservative government to abandon plans to cut services at the smaller hospitals.

Estabrooks says she has e-mailed Higgs to remind him of his promise to maintain hospital services, but adds that in 2016, the Liberals also had plans for cuts in Sackville.

“It’s very sad and very discouraging,” she says.

“When I think of all the people who have raised money for the hospital and all of the people who have given us money, I’m about ready to throw in the towel.”

Nurses take strike vote

Meantime, members of the New Brunswick Nurses Union began a strike vote on Thursday after rejecting the government’s last offer on October 6th.

The union, which represents 9,000 licensed practical nurses, registered nurses and nurse practitioners, has been without a contract since December 2018. Its members are among the lowest paid in Canada.

In July, CBC reported that the union had recorded 854 vacancies in the province partly because of deteriorating working conditions, forced overtime, as well as stress and job burnout aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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16 Responses to Horizon closing beds at Sackville Memorial Hospital

  1. Marika says:

    So let me get this right… we need near-lockdowns because of COVID. We have COVID outbreaks in hospitals.

    And it makes sense to close beds and to centralize services (such that an outbreak will affect more people).


    Someone is playing with us at least at one end of this equation, but most probably, at BOTH.

  2. Azi says:

    Remember this warning: “I’m telling you, if you vote Green, you are indirectly voting for the Conservative government and you’re voting to lose your hospital,” Vickers said.(Warktimes-Sep 2020). This has already started.

    Sackville hospital is not only a huge asset but a MUST for the community (in the way it was functioning 3 years ago which included acute care beds with best professional service you can receive-compared to my experience living in BC and Ontario). Without any exaggeration, I am really sorry for Sackvillians. I hope they get together and reverse this descion before it is too late.

  3. Dr Janet E Hammock says:

    Like many, this news leaves me feeling very upset, afraid, angry and discouraged. But not surprised. The NB government appears to listen, appears to consult, and then does whatever it pleases. We have heard Indigenous people say these very words about “our” governments’ actions and nonactions — words spoken over many centuries. We have heard people of colour say these very things over and over again, telling those who have ears to listen about the way our governments “sincerely” engage in consultation with them, and then do the opposite of what they promise. Whites!! What more will it take for us to wake up and accept that we are no different? We are simply the last to notice how poorly we are being represented because we were the best off. The Halcion days of whites scrambling to hold onto what scraps the government throws our way at the expense of all others, are over in NB. But there is HOPE! We have been given an opportunity to walk alongside Indigenous people and support the their bold initiative to take legal steps to save what is left of our province from total destruction through 100% corporate takeover. I cannot think of a better way to live my last days than to use my arms, legs, brain and mouth to defend what is left of our land.

    • Jon says:

      It’s seriously appalling to take the government’s poorly thought out hospital policy and frame it entirely in terms of race. Pointlessly framing everything as racial only adds to the toxic ubiquitous divisiveness that prevails today.

      • Janet Hammock says:

        Gosh, Jon, I’d not thought my response was racially divisive. It was meant to be the opposite! I suddenly realized that my reaction to what is happening had me using the same words as others who have been saying exactly this for a long time. In other words, I recognized that “they” are “us”, and “we” are “them”. We are together in this! My words are Intended to be simply one in many perspectives, not the ONLY perspective.

  4. Patricia says:

    I’d like us to be more specific in the language used to describe the ER closures. We’ve been saying “overnight” closure, and I suppose it is, but restricting by available hours to 8 am to 4 pm the health authority is closing late afternoons, all evening, overnight, and early morning as well.

  5. Thilo Joerger says:

    Thank you Bruce for always being on the ball for us!

    New Brunswick now looks like an autocracy covered by a transparent democracy disguise. Words and promises without meaning.

    Sackville used to help the Moncton hospitals deal with their overflow, now we are forced to add to it. How can that be health care?

    Not that it should be wished, but one wonders where the Premier and his collaborators would seek health care should they need it.

    On the claimed commitment to recruit nurses and physicians: Which sane physician or nurse would be attracted to these working conditions?

    To Azi’s comment: Pat Estabrooks reminds us (as quoted in Bruce’s article) that “in 2016, the Liberals also had plans for cuts in Sackville.” Maybe a green majority could have done better.

    Good spirits and strength to the New Brunswick Nurses Union in their just battle!

  6. Joyce O.Neil says:

    Here we go again , being told one thing, then hearing something different and unacceptable. We can’t sit back and let this happen…..time to show these rule makers that we are ready to fight for the health and lives of everyone who needs health care here in our hospital 24/7, over the years citizens have donated thousands and thousands of dollars to ensure doctors, nurses and staff have up to date equipment. We just can’t accept this latest info, let’s show them we are ready to join ranks and fight for all that we require to stay healthy and that we won’t allow them to jerk us around any more. Their promises it seems were made to be broken. Heartbroken, disgusted and ready to fight. Do I have others here in the Sackville and surrounding areas ready to fight?

    • Janet Hammock says:

      We will continue, but Joyce, the protests, letters, and the hard work done by so many of our residents has so far not been paid attention to. How do you suggest we make our voices heard? We are ready to walk with you, of course!…and we live just up the street 🥰

      • Joyce o,neil says:

        I’m really not sure how we start to fight this so hope there are others with worthy suggestions. I do wonder how many people know that the first hospital here in Sackville was built with sweat, tears and thousands of dollars and was OURS, then it was turned over to the Province in good faith and understanding, not to see us pour thousands and thousands to keep it updated and then end up with all our citizens and tax payers having no say, it was not built to be anything other than a hospital with all the needed services our citizens deserve, …. Not to be sent away to,,,,, who knows, don’t think the rulers really care.

      • Janet Hammock says:

        What about beginning with a “state-of-emergency” gathering of residents who, separated by 2 metres from one another, circle our hospital — a massive gathering intended to express our serious opposition to the government’s unilateral decision to change our hospital to a holding centre for nursing homes, and our deep concerns about the lack of basic local health care? Thilo Joerger said it best. What doctors and nurses can we attract given this state of affairs? Also, I fear that this plan of the NB government will have a terrible effect on Mount A and if this university fails, our town is down the tubes. So….a massive rally?

    • Les Hicks says:

      I want to thank Pat Estabrooks and the other members of the committees and working groups for all of their time and effort they have put in, on behalf of the residents of Sackville and surrounding areas, towards the goal of maintaining our health care facilities (hospital acute care beds, 24 hour emergency services, medical lab, etc). However, I agree completely with you Joyce that if the Higgs government is not dealing with these working groups in good faith (such as making announcements of drastic cuts on Friday afternoons) and continues to lie to the voters and gradually chip away at our existing health care services then it is time for all of us to fight against these cutbacks. We need more coordinated protests and demonstrations like those that occurred here and in other small communities last year against this autocratic behaviour of Mr. Higgs, otherwise known as ‘The Man From Irving’. Maybe it’s time to organize coordinated large protests on the steps of the legislature building by residents of all the communities affected by this gradual destruction of our local health care services.

  7. LouiseEstabrooks says:

    This is very sad indeed There just keep taking away services. Higgs should be ashamed of himself. We are a university town as well and many dollars have been donated to our hospital by our citizens but he just doesn’t care.

  8. Sandra and Robert Lucci says:

    Higgs said we (Sackville Hospital) was to help the over flow at Moncton Hospitals, now it is the reverse. AMAZING especially with the Covid-19 challenges that the Moncton hospitals are now encountering. LIFE hangs in the balance from the CAPE to Moncton. Often time is of the essence. Somebody is selling our hospital down the tracks. No hospital ….so enrollment at Mt.A. will drop and the seniors retiring and moving back from the west will be reconsidering. Where is the logic? We have to gather and fight for our HOSPITAL.

  9. Ron Shaw says:

    The same situation happened here in Parrsboro, then it came to our emergency room visits which after some outcry is going to be reinstated! We all have to take a stand and fight the fight or be swept under the rug!

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