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