On Wednesday morning, a rally of community members and leaders gathered outside the Sackville Memorial Hospital to protest the closure of all acute care beds at the facility.
Over 200 people stood outside, as speakers explained how vital the hospital is to the town of Sackville and neighboring New Brunswick communities.
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Hospital emergency hours were recently reduced, and last week Horizon Health Network announced it would temporarily close all of its inpatient beds. Instead, patients will be transferred to The Moncton Hospital, a 40-minute drive away.
Meanwhile, beds at the Sackville Memorial will be used for people waiting for long-term care.
“We are witnessing a hemorrhage of staff. How will the circuit breaker stop this bleeding? Recently retired Dr Ross Thomas said at Wednesday’s event.
Residents fear the changes will eventually lead to a complete hospital shutdown.
Wallie Sears, 93, called the hospital the region’s “little Eden”. This is where his children were born and where his late wife spent her last days.
“It would be a terrible slap in the face for us to lose this hospital,” he said.
Organizers of the rally said they are calling for the immediate restoration of all services at the hospital, with full staff.
“I think the nurses have been chased by Horizon and the threat of closures,” said Audrey Hicks, who worked as a nurse at the facility for 40 years and held various positions with the Sackville Memorial Hospital attendant. .
Hicks added that the attendant has invested more than $ 1 million in the hospital and helped fund the hospice unit. She urged Horizon not to shut down palliative care services.
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“It’s just not fair for our community to have to go through this at a time when we are trying to get through COVID,” she said.
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Those present at the rally were also concerned that the situation at the hospital could affect the health of the community.
“Why would people want to move to this community given the uncertainty of the hospital? Said Elaine Smith, past president of the Sackville Memorial Hospital Foundation.
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Nursing recruitment in progress
Horizon Health said the changes were needed due to a nursing shortage.
In a statement released Tuesday, Interim President and CEO Dr. John Dornan wrote that Horizon is “actively working” to recruit nurses in New Brunswick, “including in Sackville.”
Horizon strongly believes in the importance of rural health care, the future of Sackville Memorial Hospital and the role this exceptional facility and its dedicated team of staff, physicians, volunteers and community members play. every day to provide exceptional care to community residents. and the surrounding area, ”he wrote.
“We are fully committed to improving the services offered at this hospital so that it can reach its full potential, and we are grateful for the tireless efforts of our physicians and staff at Sackville Memorial Hospital, who are among our greatest assets in recruitment matters. “
Dornan added that Horizon is working with local municipalities, Mount Allison University and community groups as part of the recruitment process.
– With files from Suzanne Lapointe
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