Open letter to Horizon CEO on Sackville’s hospital: ‘Where is the much-needed urgency?’

Kathy Hamer Edwards wrote this letter to Horizon CEO

Sackville, December 13, 2021
Dr. John Dornan, Acting CEO
Horizon Health

Dear Dr. Dornan,

I write as a resident of Sackville to protest against the steady decline of services at our local hospital, especially those affecting the emergency room and acute-care beds. You have indicated for months that Sackville Memorial Hospital remains a high priority for Horizon Health and indeed, for the Department of Health. Yet your earnest claims of commitment to the hospital seem invariably to be followed in short order by yet another announcement of yet another reduction in service.

At this point, you have removed even the small number of acute-care beds. ER services have been steadily eroded, from closure on weekends to “temporary” closure for all but eight hours a day. Will we next see a “temporary” complete shutdown of the ER?

My question is this: how long is “temporary”? What credibility can we give to your definition of “priority”?

What is Horizon Health doing to rebuild services at a hospital that serves not only the residents of this large rural region, but also the more than 2,000 students of Mount Allison University?

What specific recruitment activities (not plans, not words) are underway?

What are your target numbers for nurses?

How many nurses have been recruited in the past six months?

What barriers have been identified to successful recruitment? What are you doing to address them?

As you well know, the Rural Health Action Group has met several times with Horizon representatives to discuss recruitment challenges and propose ways in which the community can provide support through marketing and communications. Our efforts have met with a positive verbal response, though to this point, we have seen no evidence of urgent action. What do your words mean?

We know of applicants for nursing positions in Sackville whose applications did not even receive the courtesy of an acknowledgement, or who were told that no positions were available. What are we to believe? Are we to take on faith your claims of a priority focus on our hospital and its staffing needs?

In sum, where is the much-needed urgency?

This community built its hospital, and over many years has supported it financially and through countless hours of volunteer work. We know its value to the region.

We ask that your actions match your words, to ensure that Tantramar has its fair measure of equitable  access to health care, as enshrined in the Canada Health Act.

Kathryn Hamer Edwards

cc. Hon. Dorothy Shephard, Minister of Health
Hon. Blaine Higgs, Premier, Province of New Brunswick

Kathy Hamer Edwards is a volunteer with the Rural Health Action Group. She came to New Brunswick in 1971 and worked as a Professor of French at Mount Allison University. She held various administrative posts at Mt. A before spending five years as Vice-President at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John. With the exception of those five years, she has called Sackville home. She and her husband Peter Edwards are now retired here. She is a member of the boards of the NB Youth Orchestra, Symphony NB and the NB Museum and is a past president of ArtsLink NB.

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9 Responses to Open letter to Horizon CEO on Sackville’s hospital: ‘Where is the much-needed urgency?’

  1. Ceci Snow says:

    Very well said. I would be curious to see what, if any, response is received.

  2. Shyamal Mitra says:

    We want to see actions with words from Horizon CEO.

  3. Rhonda says:

    Well said. Often times their words are just that, words. Losing our hospital will have a huge impact on our area.

  4. Steve the Realist says:

    Very well written and on point. Thank-you very much for taking the time to write and submit this letter.

  5. Doug Key says:

    Dr. Dornan and Premier Higgs need to be remember that their actions and inactions have consequences. The totally inadequate emergency facilities and staffing at Moncton Hospital are not a solution. The paramedics in the local station have an area to cover that will render them ineffective. It is apparent that rural residents are considered a low priority. Is privatization around the corner?

  6. Dodie Perkin says:

    Thank you, Kathy, for writing and sharing this letter.

  7. Monika Boehringer says:

    Hear, hear, Kathy! But – will anybody actually listen and, more importantly, finally act??

  8. Alice Cotton says:

    I believe concrete measures need to be taken: first, respond positively to any applications! Second, hire people right out of med school and nursing programs. Third, pay all education expenses for doctors and nurses. Fourth, establish an attractive wage. Fifth, give doctors and nurses a voice in decisions about their workplace.

  9. Thilo Joerger says:

    Thank you, Kathy, for putting it clearly. Your letter should be forced reading (with required public response) for all gov’t members.

    Alice Cotton’s suggestions merit to be raised every time the Rural Health Action Group is addressing Horizon and government representatives.

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