June 21, 2021 | Rural Health Concerns

Tune in here for updates on how our community is defending our hospital and healthcare system.

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to our Healthcare Reform webpage!

We decided to start this page to keep the citizens of Sackville and surrounding communities up-to-date on what is happening with the health care reform process.

Update June 21, 2021

The Mayor and CAO met with Health Minister Dorothy Shephard on Thursday June 17. Several topics were discussed, including the need for better communication from the Province and Horizon Health, Municipal involvement in the recruitment process, healthcare reform vision submitted by the Hospital Ad hoc Steering Committee, and the larger implications of closures on the community (residents’ safety, Mount Allison University, recruitment, economic development).

The main highlights from the meeting are as follows:

  • Assurance from the Health Minister that the summer weekend Emergency Room closures are temporary.
  • Enhanced communications between the Province, Horizon Health and municipalities are expected.
  • The Province is committed to finding a collaborative strategy to address staffing shortages with the Municipality and Horizon Health.
  • Further discussions and meetings are being scheduled with key stakeholders regarding health care reform.

The next step is a follow-up call to be arranged with Horizon Health (via the Department of Health) to develop a collaborative strategy going forward.

Update June 10, 2021:

Horizon Health notified residents that the Emergency Department at Sackville Memorial Hospital is temporarily changing its weekend evening and nighttime hours of service for the summer months. These temporary service changes are due to ongoing nursing shortages at the hospital and this change is in effect until September 2021.

The Emergency Department will not see patients and clients during these closures, and ambulances will be diverted to other hospitals. All patients and clients requiring urgent medical care during this time will need to seek treatment at another hospital.
Hours of service for the summer will be:
Friday: Closed at 4 p.m.
Saturday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Monday: Open at 8 a.m.
Regular 24-hour service will be available throughout the week each Monday at 8 a.m. and ending each Fridays at 4 p.m.

Update May 5, 2021

Below you will find the final briefing that our committee has submitted to the Minister of Health outlining our view of the future of health care and of the Sackville Memorial Hospital.  I would like to thank my fellow committee members Sandy Burnett, Pat Estabrooks, Kathy Hamer, John Higham, Kathleen McMullen, Judy Morison and Ross Thomas for all their hard work and dedication in bringing this to fruition.

Health Report Cover Letter

Health Care Reform Briefing

Ron Aiken,

Former Deputy Mayor


Here is some history on actions taken to date:

Shortly after the announcement last February of the planned closure of the Sackville ER, acute care beds and surgical suite, a Steering Committee was formed. The Steering Committee was a group of engaged citizens seeking practical solutions to the threats to our rural hospitals.   Accordingly the web page content was produced by those volunteers, rather than the Mayor or town staff.  This ensured its independent progress was well communicated to all residents.

Various events, including the Premier’s response to coordinated efforts often led by our Steering Committee, and of course COVID, slowed the Steering Committee activity.  The topic has re-emerged this new year with the appearance of long promised consultations with communities on health reforms.   With the province choosing Sackville as the starting location for consultations, and its clear commitment that the rural ERs will remain — reflects the effectiveness of our Steering Committee. For that, we should all be grateful to those on the Steering Committee and I offer my personal thanks to each and every one of them.

However, while rural ER closure is not part of this consultation, the province’s new process sets new and different challenges.   The process now requires both political leadership and input, as well as widespread citizen involvement in providing materials and views to the province on the future of public policy and practices in health care.

To address this change and to encourage broad participation from our residents, I have created a new web page focused on health policy consultations.  This page will provide updates, opportunities to participate, new information, and various notifications.  Items on this page will be coming from myself or town staff and will be updated as quickly as events dictate.   Its intent is to keep residents current on:

  • new information and recent local efforts;
  • ways to participate in consultation opportunities and;
  • related activities and notices.

As background to this change please find below:

1) Minister’s request of the Town for a health vision

2) Sackville’s Health Vision – Submitted to the Minister on December 30, 2020

3) Brunswick News Publication, January 15, 2021 – An editorial by two former Sackville Mayors – Pat Estabrooks and John Higham

4) Brunswick News Publication, February 16, 2021 – Invited opinion piece by John Higham

5)  Link to the health consultation schedule