N.B. rural health action group concerned over dismissal of Horizon CEO John Dornan

Click to play video: 'Advocates worry about hospital service access after N.B. health shuffle'
Advocates worry about hospital service access after N.B. health shuffle
WATCH: A community group advocating for better access to services at the Sackville Memorial Hospital is concerned. As Suzanne Lapointe reports -- they fear last week's sweeping healthcare sector firings will lead to further centralization – Jul 18, 2022

A community group advocating for better access to services at the Sackville Memorial Hospital is concerned that Friday’s firing of Horizon Health Network CEO Dr. John Dornan will lead to further centralization in health care.

On Friday, Premier Blaine Higgs announced several health-care shakeups, including replacing the health minister, firing Dornan and wiping out the boards of both Horizon and Vitalité health networks.

Rural Health Action Group co-chair John Higham said Dornan seemed particularly open to working with community groups like his.

“We were really pleased that he seemed to see that community involvement helps him do his job at Horizon and helps Horizon achieve the objectives they want,” he said in an interview on Monday.

“So we’re afraid that without that leadership and that vision, that didn’t happen before him, that it may be off the table.”

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He said his group would soon be meeting to discuss the issue, and hadn’t heard back from anyone in government about the status of the collaboration with Horizon.

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Newly appointed Health Minister Bruce Fitch didn’t offer any specifics when asked about the future of collaborations between regional health authorities and community groups on Monday.

“There are many things that have been going on in the province that have been positive and we want to leverage off that and make sure those best practices are happening right across the province if possible,” he said.

Memramcook-Tantramar MLA Megan Mitton told Global News on Saturday that Dornan had built “a relationship of trust” in her riding and made several commitments to improving Sackville’s hospital.

She said Dornan had made commitments related to retention and recruitment at the Sackville Memorial Hospital and had discussed opening a second operating room.

“I’m really hoping that those commitments will be kept, the ones that Dr. Dornan was making,” she said.

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Mitton is also concerned that the wiping of Horizon and Vitalité’s boards will lead to less rural representation.

“This move of getting rid of partly elected boards and appointing these trustees just centralizes the decision making so the decisions are going to be made in Fredericton,” she said.

She was concerned that this would lead to changing the structure of health-care management with less community input.

“There were more questions than answers at (Friday’s) announcement,” she said

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