Horizon leadership updates Tantramar community on several key health care initiatives

(TANTRAMAR) – Horizon Health Network (Horizon) is making progress as the organization continues in its collaborative work to improve access and the delivery of health care services in the Tantramar area.

A delegation of local Horizon senior leaders, including interim President and CEO Margaret Melanson, took part in a public community forum organized by Memramcook-Tantramar MLA Megan Mitton Tuesday night, providing information on a variety of initiatives and responding to questions from the public.

The meeting was well-attended, with more than 100 people taking part, and Horizon wishes to thank all who participated for the productive dialogue and engagement in this important discussion.

Horizon has been working collaboratively with area stakeholders and members of the local Rural Health Action Group to identify and address key health care challenges in the community, such as improving access to primary care; maintaining and enhancing services at Horizon’s Sackville Memorial Hospital (SMH); and continuing to make inroads with the recruitment and retention of physicians, nurses and other health care professionals to the Tantramar region.

Recruitment and Retention

Ms. Melanson touched on recent achievements in Horizon’s ongoing recruitment and retention efforts, including the successful hiring of a new Emergency Department physician – who will begin work in the fall – as well as an anesthetist and a medical lab technologist to SMH, while maintaining a full complement of nursing staff at the hospital.

Through targeted marketing campaigns, incentives and strategic recruitment efforts, Horizon has been able to recruit and onboard a total of four Registered Nurses (RNs) and one Licenced Practical Nurse (LPN) to SMH since the beginning of the current fiscal year.

Horizon also reaffirmed its goal of eventually restoring 24-7 Emergency Department services at SMH as efforts to recruit additional ED physicians to the hospital continue.

Finally, Horizon’s Talent Acquisition Team is collaborating with the Southeast Regional Service Commission (RSC) to develop a process and execute a plan regarding the use of community promotional funding for health care recruitment allocated by the province to the RSCs.

Primary Care Access

A major topic of discussion during the forum related to concerns about gaps in primary care access with the impending loss of a pair of family physicians.

With the upcoming retirement of Dr. Catherine Johnston and Dr. Andrea Wall taking on a new role as chief hospitalist at SMH, Horizon reiterated its commitment to supporting patients who have been impacted by the closure of these two practices.

In the interim, this includes plans to establish a temporary primary care clinic beginning in September, which would serve displaced patients and prioritize those with the most urgent and chronic medical needs while efforts to recruit new primary care providers to the community continue. More information will be provided in the coming weeks.

Horizon has a vision to develop this temporary 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.

Beal University

Earlier this year, the provincial government granted conditional approval to Beal University Canada to deliver a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in New Brunswick, and, more specifically, at SMH. Since then, Beal – a privately-funded organization – has received preliminary approval from NANB to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

The proposed program would be completed in 32 months – 12 months online and then on-site in Sackville for the rest of the program, with clinical placements completed at Horizon and/or Vitalité facilities. The projected completion date is December 2023, with the program beginning in January 2024.

Beal University will be leasing available space within SMH in order to deliver this program, however this will not have an impact on the availability of community services in the Tantramar area.

Horizon and Beal University are currently exploring spatial requirements for both parties to ensure the needs for Horizon staff, physicians, and patients in the Tantramar area and Beal students, faculty and staff are met.

Maritime Provinces Higher Education Committee (MPHEC) will be on-site next week for a final review of program requirements.

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For more information contact:

Kris McDavid

Media Relations