A detailed, 40-page report on primary health care in the Tantramar region identifies 13 major problems and recommends specific steps to solve them by the target date of April 1, 2024.
The report, dated October 2022, was compiled by a 15-member committee that included local volunteers such as former Sackville Mayors John Higham and Pat Estabrooks, several others with extensive health care experience as well as representatives from Mount Allison University and Horizon Health. For a list of members, click here.
Among other things, the report points to a shortage of family doctors and nurse practitioners because of recent and anticipated retirements.
It recommends recruiting and hiring more of them while expanding the community health clinic in Port Elgin and establishing medical clinics in the Sackville area with additional staff such as physiotherapists, social workers and mental health counsellors.
The Horizon Health Network released the report to Warktimes last week in response to my request for it in April under New Brunswick’s Right to Information and Protection of Privacy law.
According to the report, its recommendations are based on interviews with 12 professionals who work in the following fields in Sackville, Dorchester, Memramcook, Fort Folly and Port Elgin:
(1) Fire/First Responders (2) Ambulance NB (3) Drug & Addictions Counselling (4) Nurse Practitioner (5) General Practitioner (medical doctor) (6) Mental Health Social Worker (7) Extramural Program — Tantramar (8) Pharmacist (9) Mount Allison Wellness Care Provider (10) Physiotherapy provider (11) Long-Term Care Manager (12) Nursing Homes Without Walls.
The professionals were asked about the barriers patients face, gaps in the health-care system, what’s working well and what needs improvement.
Although the five pages that give their responses have been redacted (left blank), it’s possible to glean information from summaries in the report that list the 13 major issues or problems and the recommended solutions.
For example, ambulance delays are listed as a top priority in issue #3:
- Patients are experiencing Ambulance New Brunswick (ANB) offload delays
- The patient population has increased resulting in an increase in ANB calls
- There is a failure to utilize resources: Some Fire Departments (Dorchester, Port Elgin, Memramcook) have trained First Responders but do not consistently receive medical-assistance First Responder calls
The report then describes the consequences of these problems:
- Ambulances are not available to attend to medical emergencies or transport patients to other facilities from Sackville
- Reduced accessibility to ambulance services
- Increased response time
It goes on to recommend corrective or remedial measures to be implemented by April 1, 2024:
- Improved hospital acute-care bed availability (prevents patient stacking in ER and ambulances)
- Placement of long-term care patients occupying acute-care beds in community long-term care facilities
- Utilization of non-ANB First Responders
The report also recommends ways to restore 24/7 emergency room service at the Sackville hospital; how to reduce hospital clinic waitlists for diabetic and mental health patients as well as implementation of an electronic medical record system “accessible by all care providers” to improve the delivery of patient services.
To view all 13 issues/problems and the recommended solutions, click here.
To read the entire report, click here.