'You almost don’t exist': Northern N.B. leaders frustrated with ongoing healthcare service suspensions, closures | RiseNB

‘You almost don’t exist’: Northern N.B. leaders frustrated with ongoing healthcare service suspensions, closures

Interruptions, suspensions and closures of different units – mostly obstetrics and pediatric services – in northern New Brunswick continue to concern leaders in that region.

Pediatric services at the Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst have been suspended since July 29.

They were supposed to resume Wednesday, but instead, will continue to be suspended until Aug. 15. Vitalite Health Network says it’s due to a nursing shortage.

And the Edmundston Regional Hospital’s pediatric and obstetrics services will be closed from Aug. 11 until Aug. 19, because of a lack of pediatricians in the facility.

Those services were also interrupted for two weeks in July.

“We’re going to have to look at the medium to long-term on how we can avoid these cuts to our services and to make sure the people from northern New Brunswick get the access they need to specialized services,” said Edmundston’s mayor Eric Marquis on July 25.

The Georges Dumont Hospital in Moncton also had to temporarily close its pediatric services for one week in June.

And obstetrics continue to be suspended at the Campbellton Regional Hospital – an interruption that’s been ongoing since April of 2020. Women from that area are currently going to Bathurst to give birth, just over an hour away.

“I’ve been barking loud for the last six years with Vitalite,” said Dalhousie’s mayor Normand Pelletier.

“When you look at the Campbellton Regional Hospital, when the obstetrics is closed, it’s frustrating. When you see people who have to travel to Bathurst from Campbellton or even Saint-Quentin or Kedgwick, you’re very concerned.”

Pelletier says in one instance, a woman hit a moose while trying to get to Bathurst to see the birth of her grandchild. He says he’s recently spent hours in meetings on the topic of recruitment, trying to come up with a strategy.

“I’ve been seeing for the past six years the recruitment process, we’ve got a lot of work to be done,” he said. “Hopefully in the next few weeks we should have a good plan, handed to the premier and his team and something good can come out of this.”

Bathurst’s mayor says the city is trying to assist with recruiting, including paying a portion of two medical school student’s tuition. Once they graduate, they’ll then come serve the Bathurst area.

“But that’s not going to happen tomorrow, that’s going to happen four years from now,” said Kim Chamberlain.

She’s been without a family doctor for three years.

In her role as mayor – and her involvement in the city’s multicultural association – Chamberlain says there are blaring gaps in the system that need to be fixed.

“We’ve actually lost quite a few families that moved here from Europe, where they’re nurses and they’ve worked 20 years in Europe but then they come here and it would take two years,” she said. “But they move to Quebec, and in Quebec, within six months, they’re practicing again.”

The northern community leaders say they’re trying their best, but say the system needs to meet them halfway.

“You almost don’t exist,” Chamberlain said. “You have to be louder to ensure, to say, it’s not just Fredericton, Moncton, Saint John. You know what? Bathurst exists, Miramichi exists, Edmundston exists.”

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