‘The system’s broken’: Horizon Health CEO calls for changes

The Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital needs more support, says Horizon Health's CEO.
The Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital needs more support, says Horizon Health's CEO. Laura Brown/Global News

FREDERICTON – The Horizon Health Network is looking at its future, and planning for change.

The network operates 12 hospitals and around 100 clinics, offices, and other facilities across New Brunswick.

But according to CEO John McGarry, 25 per cent of patients in their system don’t need to be there.

McGarry says one quarter of patients they see in hospitals would be better served in a nursing home – and it’s not the patient’s fault.

“It’s not to blame the patients. They don’t have any place to go,” said McGarry. “It’s just to say the system’s broken in this regard.”

McGarry addressed the Horizon Health board Thursday in Fredericton, and presented the network’s five-year-plan. He spoke about the deep-seeded problems in the system, which requires sweeping change.

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“When you’ve got the Saint John Regional Hospital, which is probably the most technologically advanced hospital in the Maritimes, 25 per cent of the capacity filled up with patients that really belong in the community in long term care, what are you doing with your system?”

McGarry told media he would like to sit down with Health Minister Victor Boudreau, as well as health officials from across the province, to look at alternate models of care. He said he would be open to the idea recently proposed by Boudreau, where the province would convert several rural hospitals to long-term care facilities.

But, McGarry did take issue with the funding Horizon has received in recent years compared to the smaller Vitalite Network.

In 2015-16, McGarry said Horizon is scheduled to receive $4.8 million, whereas Vitalite should see $30.4 million.

McGarry showed the board pictures of the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton, now 40 years old, and in need of repairs.

“I’m not asking for $200 million, I’m asking to keep the momentum going, and I would say as much as we want a community health centre in Fredericton, I’d say maybe that waits another year and we keep this hospital project going.”