Horizon leadership updates Tantramar on actions taken to improve health care

(TANTRAMAR) – Horizon President and CEO Margaret Melanson and other Horizon senior leaders shared improvements and achievements in their work to expand emergency department access and enhance primary and ambulatory care services at a public health care meeting last Thursday night in Sackville.

Primary Care Enhancement

The recruitment of six new health care positions for the Tantramar Primary Health Care clinic is part of approved funding for primary care enhancements by the Government of New Brunswick for the 2024-25 fiscal year. This will include a dietitian, a social worker, a patient navigator, a pharmacist, an administrative professional and a part-time respiratory therapist.

Since opening its doors in September 2023, the clinic has served 600 patients, equaling 1,150 appointments.

Other significant primary care updates include:

  • Multispecialty Interprofessional Team (MINT) memory care staff training completed and a new memory clinic coming in May
  • A Pap test clinic offered in April, with more planned for May and June
  • Two days of appointments each month for diabetes clinics
  • One appointment day each month for respiratory illness

Recruitment and Retention

Horizon remains committed to the 24/7 reinstatement of the SMH’s Emergency Department and  plans are underway to expand current ED evening hours by securing physician coverage.

Horizon’s Talent Acquisition Team, with support from the area’s local leadership, continue to market the Tantramar area to physicians, health care professionals and support services, yielding very positive results.

Currently, the Ambulatory Care Clinic and Operating Room (OR) at SMH are fully staffed, with ongoing recruitment efforts underway for the inpatient Brunswick Unit and the Emergency Department.

Horizon continues to promote recruitment incentives available through rural incentive packages for family physicians, Nurse Practitioners and Registered Nurses, as well as resources available through the Horizon Community Toolkit and Horizon Referral Reward program.

Ambulatory Care Services

Horizon is continuing to expand specialist clinics at the Ambulatory Care Clinic at Horizon’s Sackville Memorial Hospital (SMH). Current services like drain removal, suture and staple removal, bladder scans and others are available and accessed through physician or nurse practitioner referral. Nurse practitioner Pap clinic days are available without a referral.

Horizon is currently examining potential expansion in service offerings in collaboration with the Tantramar and Strait Shores community’s Rural Health Action Group (RHAG).

Tantramar-area residents can access a variety of ambulatory care services at their local hospital, eliminating the need to travel outside the area. There has been a 38 per cent increase in the number of patients seen over a one-year period.

From April 2023 to February 2024, a total of 2,966 patients were seen at the SMH Ambulatory Care Clinic, which is a significant increase over the 2,142 which were seen during the same timeframe in the preceding year.

In addition to completing the parking lot expansion, ongoing roof maintenance and implementing enhanced security measures at the SMH, renovations to the Queens Unit continue.

Horizon was joined by its partners from NB Health Link to address important questions at the well-attended meeting, which was organized by Memramcook-Tantramar MLA Megan Mitton. Horizon wishes to thank all who participated for the productive dialogue in this important discussion.

Horizon’s collaboration with RHAG continues, and the organization remains committed to advancing important community health care improvements.

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Media Relations

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.