Ongoing staffing shortages at Sackville Memorial Hospital in New Brunswick are continuing to limit the services the hospital can provide.
The facility’s emergency room hours have been reduced to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, and no acute care beds are available.
Sackville residents have been vocal about wanting to preserve their hospital and restore regular operations, and even held a rally last December to call attention to their plight.
In a statement to Global News, Eileen MacGibbon, the vice-president clinical at Horizon Health Network, said a project team has been developed in conjunction with community members to recruit health-care personnel to Sackville.
“We remain fully committed to working toward the goal of restoring acute care beds and 24-7 Emergency Department (ED) services at Sackville Memorial Hospital as soon as we are safely able to do so,” she wrote.
John Higham is a co-chair of the Memramcook-Tantramar Rural Health Action Group, which is trying to help recruit more doctors.
“Working locally we’ve created kind of a Sackville site — it’s not quite ready; it’s nearly ready — about why would a physician or nurse want to come here,” he explained.
New Brunswick Medical Society President Mark MacMillan said the best recruiters for doctors are doctors themselves, as well as existing community members.
He added that what makes recruitment difficult, however, is that young physicians increasingly value work-life balance, which can be harder to achieve when there are fewer physicians in the area.
“Often physicians in rural areas are smaller in numbers and they don’t have access to as many specialists as primary care providers in larger centres do,” he said.
“But on the flip side, rural communities also offer an amazing quality of life. The group of physicians are usually very tight-knit and close.”