Horizon continuing to see progress in health care improvements in Tantramar area

TANTRAMAR – Last night, representatives of Horizon’s senior leadership team provided a detailed update to community members in the Tantramar area regarding several initiatives aimed at improving the delivery of health care services in the area.

Margaret Melanson, Horizon’s interim President and CEO, as well as Carol Reimer, Chair of Horizon’s Board of Directors, were part of a delegation of representatives who took part in a public community forum hosted by Memramcook-Tantramar MLA Megan Mitton at Mount Allison University.

The forum was a follow-up to a similar event held this past summer, and provided an opportunity for community members to ask questions and learn more about how Horizon is continuing to make inroads in its efforts to bolster health care services in collaboration with local stakeholders and members of Tantramar and Strait Shores’ Rural Health Action Group.

The work being carried out in this area is in alignment with Horizon’s Critical Action Plan, which focuses on retention and recruitment efforts, in addition to improving the overall patient experience by addressing patient flow and access to services.

In Tantramar, this has resulted in a multitude of projects being implemented or initiated within recent months, with an emphasis on identified community priorities such as improving access to primary care; maintaining and enhancing services at Horizon’s Sackville Memorial Hospital (SMH); and the recruitment and retention of physicians, nurses and other health care professionals to the area.

Horizon is committed to keeping stakeholders and community members informed of our efforts as we move forward.

Tantramar Primary Care Clinic

In September, Horizon opened the doors to a new primary care clinic that has been serving displaced patients in the area. Since its opening, the clinic has already provided 163 appointments to patients.

The clinic is operating three or four days a week, with the on-site team currently consisting of three physicians, a Registered Nurse (RN), two administrative staff, as well as casual support.

The facility also recently hosted a diabetes clinic and is in the process of planning a flu shot clinic for later this fall.

Horizon’s vision is to develop this clinic into an integrated and collaborative community health centre, where patients will receive care from a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals and is committed to keeping the community informed of these efforts as they materialize.

Horizon is continuing to explore any and all leads to recruit physician support for this clinic and the wider community, and our recruiters have engaged in promising conversations with potential candidates in recent weeks.

With an emphasis on improving the number of primary care providers practicing in the area, the organization’s Talent Acquisition Team has posted a NP position for the former town of Sackville, in addition to a NP position to support the Port Elgin and Region Health Centre.

Ambulatory Care services/Enhancements to Sackville Memorial Hospital

Horizon is pleased to report that thanks to word of mouth and other outreach efforts, patients in the Tantramar area have been increasingly utilizing services available through the Ambulatory Care Clinic at Horizon’s Sackville Memorial Hospital.

Patients can access a variety of ambulatory care services at their local hospital, eliminating the need to travel outside the area, and numbers for the current fiscal year demonstrates that people are taking full advantage.

From May 1 to Sept. 30, 2023, a total of 895 patients have been seen at the SMH Ambulatory Care Clinic, which is a significant increase over the 535 which were seen during the same timeframe in 2022.

Officials are in the process of examining the feasibility of expanding the availability of hospital services, such as physiotherapy, medical imaging, phlebotomy and laboratory services at the hospital in the future.

In addition, Horizon is continuing to prioritize strategic capital improvements at SMH to improve the patient experience, including major renovations to the Queens Unit which are currently in-progress, as well as an expansion of the hospital parking lot and roof repairs.

Recruitment and Retention

Horizon has seen considerable success in recruitment and retention for the Tantramar area over the last three years, and this work continues as our Talent Acquisition Team continues to market the area to health care professionals.

The Ambulatory Care Clinic and Operating Room (OR) at SMH are currently fully staffed, with 94.3 % of positions filled in the 21-bed Brunswick Unit.

In the Emergency Department – where the organization remains committed to eventually restoring to 24-hour service once safe physician/nursing coverage is achieved – Horizon recently hired two full-time RNs through its Student Nurse Advancement Pledge (SNAP) program, with over 85% of the departments nursing positions now currently filled.

There is still a need to fill three part-time RN positions in ED, for which our teams are actively recruiting.

Horizon continues to promote recruitment incentives available through rural incentive packages for family physicians, NPs and RNs, as well as resources available through our Community Toolkit, Horizon Referral Rewards program.

For more information contact:

Kris McDavid

Media Relations