Celebrating successes of community collaboration in Tantramar

From left, are Bill Evans, Chair of the Sackville Memorial Hospital Foundation, Christa Wheeler-Thorne, Executive Director of the Moncton area, John Higham, Margaret Tusz-King, and Pat Estabrooks, from the Memramcook-Tantramar Rural Health Action Group, with Margaret Melanson, interim President.

(TANTRAMAR) A successful recruitment campaign highlighting the community, improved employee recruitment and engagement, and facility upgrades are just some of the early successes out of a collaboration between Horizon Health Network (Horizon) and the Rural Health Action Group (RHAG), a community-based organization formed to establish sustainable health service delivery for the Sackville, Memramcook and Tantramar area.

Furthermore, an in-depth review of current health care services in the Sackville area, with an analysis of gaps and opportunities was completed by RHAG’s Service Design Working Group (SDWG), and the recommendations are being analyzed to create an outline for next steps.

“On behalf of Horizon, we would like to extend a sincere thank you to members of the Rural Health Action Group and the citizens of the Tantramar region in making this collaborative health care initiative a great success,” said Margaret Melanson, interim President and CEO of Horizon. “We acknowledge the time, energy and commitment members contributed to this initiative to make this a success, which will help inform future community collaborative partnerships within Horizon.”

Horizon representatives are continuing to engage collaboratively with members of the Sackville-Memramcook-Tantramar RHAG to identify and execute strategies aimed at better promoting Horizon’s Sackville Memorial Hospital (SMH) – and the community – as a quality place to build a career in health care while enjoying all the area has to offer.

“Our vision is to inform a new model of community-informed health care, where shared values and structures for collaboration result in more relevant and reliable services, more satisfied health care staff and improved health outcomes for everyone,” said John Higham, co-chair of RHAG. “We are certain the whole province would be interested and benefit from the new kinds of working relationships we are modeling.”

From a recruitment perspective, thanks to a robust marketing campaign through Horizon, and with support from the town of Tantramar, the goals of hiring six full-time nursing staff for the Brunswick Unit, and two full-time nursing staff for Emergency Department (ED) at SMH within two years have been achieved. The recruitment of two full-time physicians remains a priority.

There has also been a concentrated effort to improve employee engagement with support from the Sackville Memorial Hospital Foundation, as well as an enhanced working environment through facility upgrades.

In February 2023, renovations to SMH’s ED were completed, including modernizing the ED and fixing damage from flooding that occurred in September 2022. Up next is the construction of a second operating room (OR) theatre, and renovations to the existing OR.

The Rural Health Action Group includes representatives from municipal governments and Mount Allison University, retired healthcare professionals and community volunteers.

RHAG is represented on a Steering Committee along with Horizon representation, including the President and CEO, the Executive Director for the Moncton area, Human Resources, Primary Health Care, Communications and Community Engagement, and local physicians. The Steering Committee is also supported by membership from Ambulance New Brunswick and is accountable to Horizon leadership and to municipal leaders in the Tantramar area.

The collaborative model of community engagement in Tantramar is being used as a template for building sustainable rural health care opportunities in other New Brunswick communities experiencing similar challenges recruiting and retaining health care professionals and providing quality health care services to residents. Communities like Sussex and St. Stephen have established groups themselves.

Enhanced community engagement for an improved patient experience is a key priority for Horizon’s plan to ensure all patients and clients receive the quality care they need.   This plan consists of three other priorities, including improved access to care, the retention and recruitment of physicians, nurses and staff; and improving patient flow at our health care facilities. Further details about Horizon’s four priority areas are available at HorizonNB.ca.   This initiative also supports the Government of New Brunswick’s provincial health plan, Stabilizing Health Care: An Urgent Call to Action.


For more information contact:

Kris McDavid

Media Relations