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Horizon funding $6.4M in surgery resources at New Brunswick rural hospitals

Sackville Memorial Hospital is one of the rural hospitals that will benefit from the investment. Suzanne Lapointe / Global News

Horizon Health says $6.4-million funding for surgery resources in rural hospitals will result in almost 2,000 additional knee and hip replacements being performed in New Brunswick each year.

This will allow the health network to address the province’s significant orthopedic surgery backlog, created due to many factors including staffing shortages, an aging population and pandemic-related surgery cancellations.

During a virtual press conference, Dr. Patricia Bryden,  co-leader of Surgical and Intensive Care at Horizon said, “We’re also looking at reviewing the patients that are on the long waiter list specifically. They haven’t been reviewed in some time from a medical point of view.

“We’re hopeful that this initiative and this project will not only reduce the numbers on the wait list but also keep the wait lists under control going forward.”

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Carleton County’s Upper River Valley Hospital, as well as Fredericton’s Everett Chalmers, the Oromocto Public Hospital and Sackville Memorial Hospital will be receiving additional infrastructure and resources primarily for knee and hip replacements.

The Sussex Health Centre’s operating room will receive improvements to allow for cataract surgeries, endoscopy and “other appropriate procedures” according to a Horizon press release.

Memramcook MLA Megan Mitton’s riding is home to Sackville Memorial Hospital, which has been plagued by frequent ER closures due to staffing shortages.

While she believes more work needs to be done, she told Global News in an interview on Friday she is pleased with the announcement.

“We need to see increased access to emergency and to primary care. And this is also about equitable access across the province and in rural areas. Our community has been calling for investments in rural health care and in rural hospitals and this is what is needed,” she said.

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Rural Health Action Group Co-Chair John Higham believes this announcement bodes well for the future of rural hospitals in the province.

“To see a physical investment in the infrastructure of Sackville Memorial Hospital and other rural hospitals is really part of what we’ve been building towards,” he said on Friday.

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“It really shows that a couple years ago there was an attempt to close these down and now the value of those rural hospitals in the larger system is clearly being recognized,” he added.

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