Horizon improving access to care at Sussex Health Centre Emergency Department through collaborative, multidisciplinary model

Improving access to services such as emergency care is one of Horizon’s critical action priorities, and the organization is in the process of exploring a multidisciplinary model of care to ensure sustainable services

(SUSSEX) – With the goal of improving access to care, reducing wait times and better serving our patients, Horizon Health Network (Horizon) intends to implement a multidisciplinary, blended model of care in the Sussex Health Centre (SHC) Emergency Department (ED) that will enhance the overall clinical team while integrating an innovative virtual care model.

Reflecting Horizon’s firm commitment to restoring 24/7 emergency department services in Sussex, the organization is introducing a series of innovative solutions that will help modernize and optimize ED operations, support physicians and staff, while also better meeting the needs of patients.

This multi-faceted plan will see a blend of Nurse Practitioners (NPs), Advanced Care Paramedics (ACPs), Respiratory Therapists (RTs) and – over the longer term – Physician Assistants (PAs) integrated into the ED team where they will provide safe and timely patient care.

There are currently eight full-time vacancies for emergency medicine physicians in the Saint John area. In addition to their work in Sussex, Horizon’s limited pool of ED physicians in this area are also responsible for providing coverage at the Saint John Regional Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Charlotte County Hospital.

Adding these skilled providers to the staffing mix at SHC will play a critical role in providing much-needed support to ED physicians, where they will be able to deliver wraparound services to patients visiting the ED for non-emergency medical issues and a variety of other needs while contributing to a more sustainable operation overall. 

“This exciting initiative aligns with our organizational priorities of improving access to care and providing an enhanced patient experience, while reinforcing our commitment to restoring around the clock care in Sussex,” said Margaret Melanson, Horizon President and CEO. “We know that patients who present to our emergency departments do so for a wide variety of reasons, and I’m confident this innovative, multidisciplinary model will offer timely and well-rounded care for our patients. Our intent will be to monitor and analyze this implementation with the goal to spread to other community areas throughout Horizon in the coming months.”

These efforts are already well underway, with NPs recently added to the ED team, where they are now seeing patients every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Horizon has also allocated four new, full-time RT positions to SHC, three of which have been successfully filled, with the goal of providing 24-7 respiratory therapy coverage in the hospital.

Respiratory therapists are important members of the patient care team, and in an ED setting they are able to perform a number of functions, including airway assessment, intubation, stabilization and management.

Additionally, the organization has hired a total of nine ACPs on a temporary basis as part of a new pilot project in collaboration with the Paramedic Association of New Brunswick.

Advanced care paramedics are specially trained and licensed to provide a wide variety of medical interventions, including advanced airway management, options for vascular access, needle thoracostomy and advanced electrical therapy. 

Their scope of practice also allows them to effectively treat conditions such as seizures, cardiac arrhythmias, post-partum hemorrhage, trauma, pain, wounds and more.

Advanced care paramedics have been successfully utilized as part of ED teams in other provinces however, in New Brunswick, ACPs have traditionally been deployed to support ambulance crews responding to calls involving patients with more complex or severe care needs.

Horizon is also establishing a virtual clinical support model for the SHC ED, which would allow the clinical team in Sussex to quickly connect with and obtain support and expertise from an emergency physician when one is not available on-site.

“By harnessing this virtual technology, it allows us to provide continuous, high-quality patient care in the event a physician is unable to provide on-site coverage in Sussex,” said Dr. Serge Melanson, Horizon’s Executive Clinical/Academic Head of Emergency Care. “This approach not only ensures patients receive the best possible care while limiting the need for unnecessary transfers but it also supports our commitment to maintaining robust emergency services in Sussex.”

Horizon is continuing to prioritize the recruitment of physicians, nurses and other health care personnel to Sussex, and is committed to keeping the community informed of its progress as these efforts continue to take shape.

Horizon has a plan to improve health care in New Brunswick. Our plan is focused on retention and recruitment efforts and improving the overall patient experience by addressing patient flow and access to services. 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