The Sackville Hospital

November 9, 2022

Virgil Hammock
Candidate Ward 3 Councillor
Tantramar Township

To be clear Sackville does not, nor will the Tantramar Township, operate the Sackville Hospital. That is done by the Horizon Health Network for the government of New Brunswick. This has not always been so. The hospital was built and operated by members of Sackville community, but that was some time ago and is another story.

I served for four years as an elected member of the board the South East Regional Health Authority from 2004 to 2008 when I was still a member of the Sackville Town council (1999 – 2012). The SERHA operated both the Moncton and Sackville Hospitals and I represented the Township of Sackville (Slightly different from Sackville proper.) on the board. In 2008 the Authority was replaced by the Horizon Health Network and the unpaid elected board members of SERHA were replaced by paid political appointees. I have some knowledge of how health authorities operate (or do not operate).

While our township does not have direct control of the funding and operation of our hospital it does not mean that town council does not have a significant role to play in protecting the Sackville Hospital. Council and the mayor must provide a loud and clear voice of our concern to Fredricton. The recent committee chaired by ex-mayor John Higham worked very hard to do that. I have not doubt the Province, given the chance and opportunity, would downgrade or close our hospital.

I think that our council needs to appoint a health liaison town counsellor and a standing committee of council on health and wellness. Remember that the name Tantramar can be traced back to a French term for a festival that celebrated the loud noise made by birds and other wildlife in the marsh. A chief job of the this committee, and council, would be to make a loud noise when comes to the health of our citizens. If I am elected I would certainly attempt to convince my colleagues to establish a health portfolio of council.

It is important to emphasize the term wellness when it comes to the health of our citizens. I found out while on the health authority that one of our major jobs was to keep people out of our hospitals in the first place by actively promoting wellness. The town can actively promote wellness by measures such as an active transportation programme that make it easier for people to walk or drive in our downtown areas, looking for ways to reduce pollution, and urging people to take better care of themselves.

There is also the the important matter of the failure of the ER at the Sackville Hospital. An 8 to 4 operation of the ER just will not do. We cannot schedule our need for emergences around a forty hour week. We have many seniors, students, and countless others without a doctor who rely on the ER. Our winters make it often impossible to go to Moncton or even Amherst ERs.

Speaking of Amherst they seem to be able generally to provide an ER with a 24/7 service and so should we. We need to seek answers the problems of health care in Tantramar. Again, there is nothing that I can do by myself and it will be difficult for all of council and the mayor to solve the problem, but we need to fight for a solution.

If you agree with this and my other postings on the election please share. It will be much appreciated.

One comment

  1. All excellent points, Virgil. Your knowledge of the way things do (or don’t) work on many levels of governance, and your vast experience over many years in municipal government will make you an enormously useful addition to the new Council. A lot of the hard work of the new Council will involve listening to others: listening hard, listening thoughtfully, and listening with both heart and brain. You’ve got good ears, a good brain, and your heart is in the right place!

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