New Brunswick parents calling for a children’s hospital in their own province

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Parents calling for a children’s hospital in New Brunswick
WATCH: Hundreds of parents in New Brunswick have signed a petition for the construction of a children’s hospital in the province. They say travelling to the IWK in Halifax can be a challenge. Suzanne Lapointe spoke with two concerned parents – Feb 27, 2024

Hundreds of parents in New Brunswick have signed a petition calling for the construction of a children’s hospital in the province.

The nearest one is the IWK Health Centre in Halifax — one province over.

For Heather Warman and her 13-year-old daughter Ava, that’s meant dozens of trips from Bass River Point, N.B. to the Nova Scotia capital over the past decade.

Ava was born with a rare genetic condition known as MECP2 Duplication syndrome that causes low muscle definition, developmental delays and epilepsy. She first became a patient of the IWK in 2013 as a three-year-old toddler.

“Since then, we’ve made about 30 to 40 trips down, whether that was checking on her eyes to the respirology clinic, endocrinology — every specialist, any ‘ology’ you could think of, she’s been there,” said Warman.

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Ava, shown here with her mother Heather Warman, was born with a rare genetic condition. Provided/Heather Warman

Over the last fiscal year, more than 750 New Brunswick patients have had inpatient stays at the IWK.

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This past fall, Ava was flown to the hospital when she had pneumonia.

“It was actually the day after Hurricane Lee, so we were worried about flying. It took them three hours to stabilize her because the cabin pressures affect her oxygen levels,” recalled Warman.

This past fall, Ava was flown to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax when she had pneumonia. Provided/Heather Warman

Suffice to say, it’s been stressful for Warman and her family, who want to see more pediatric specialists in New Brunswick.

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Not only would that mean better healthcare for her daughter and children like her, but it would also ease travel pressures and minimize time away from parents who have work obligations.

Health-care advocate Julie Leger has also had to take her son to the IWK from New Brunswick — and it’s meant she had to take unpaid time off work to cover the travel.

“It does put an extra stress (when you’re stressing) about your own child being sick and having the proper care (…) for you to be able to live your lifestyle,” she said.

Leger started a petition that’s now collected more than 400 signatures calling on New Brunswick to get its own pediatric hospital.

“There is no reason why we can’t start thinking ahead and say, ‘Listen, we need a kids hospital that would benefit not only the economy, the health care, less stress on a lot of people.'”

The New Brunswick Medical Society, which represents physicians in the province, echoes the call to improve pediatric services in the province.

“This includes timelier access to care, as well as access to a broader range of treatment in New Brunswick,” wrote Dr. Paula Keating, the society’s president.

“A children’s hospital could certainly be a possibility in the long term, but many other health system improvements would need to be realized before we could adequately build, equip and staff such a facility.”

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In the meantime, Keating said, there needs to be a focus on “shoring up” resources to ensure New Brunswick children can receive “the full extent of care available in-province, before needing to visit a hospital elsewhere.”

Leger is now collecting physical signatures on a paper petition in hopes of presenting it to the Legislature in the coming weeks.

Global News has reached out to the province’s Department of Health for comment, but has not received a response as of deadline.


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