Sackville Memorial Hospital Foundation chair Bill Evans, Moneris Solutions representative Tanya Becker, Horizon hospital director Christa Wheeler-Thorne, and campaign director Carolle de Ste-Croix. Photo: Erica Butler
The Sackville Memorial Hospital Foundation has launched its latest fundraising campaign, and this time instead of purchasing a new piece of equipment, the foundation has commissioned a design for a three-season therapeutic outdoor garden courtyard behind the hospital.
The Foundation hopes to raise $150,000 in its Rest, Restore, Reconnect campaign, and hit the ground running on Thursday with a $20,000 commitment from Moneris Solutions, and another $40,000 in the bank from the previous year of donations.
“I’m blown away by the support that this community, our corporate and our private donors, make to this hospital that we all love,” said Bill Evans, foundation chair and former Sackville town councillor. Evans said that since 2010, donors had contributed $1.3 million towards hospital improvements. “The future of our hospital as an acute care facility with a 24/7 ER is of paramount concern to the residents of this town,” said Evans.
SMH is ‘thriving’
Evans expressed confidence that the hospital’s administrators, Horizon Health Network, are also committed to its future. Sackville and Moncton hospital chief Christa Wheeler-Thorne was on hand to back him up on that.
“Sackville Memorial Hospital is thriving,” said Wheeler-Thorne. “And I have some evidence that I can tell you about to demonstrate that.”
Sackville and Moncton hospital director Christa Wheeler-Thorne addresses the crowd at the kickoff of the Rest, Restore, Reconnect campaign. Photo: Erica Butler
Wheeler-Thorne mentioned the recent renovations and repairs the emergency department which were completed recently, and cost Horizon about $400,000. Another smaller project worth about $20,000 involved a “facelift” for the cafeteria, which Wheeler-Thorne said was, “part of the government’s commitment to refurbish staff and patient areas to make them brighter and more welcoming.”
In yet another project, Horizon is spending about $2 million to renovating existing operating rooms, as part of a system-wide plan to make better use of OR spaces in community hospitals.
“They’re hoping that this will help alleviate some of the waitlist for short or less complex surgeries,” said Wheeler-Thorne. “And while we do that, it will help us to open up the regional hospitals for more complex surgeries and get them done faster.”
The hospital director also cited big improvements in nursing recruitment with roughly 20 to 25 nurses and LPNs on-boarded to the Brunswick in-patient unit and the ER. Although the 21-bed Brunswick unit is now back to some in-patient use as well as long term care use, the Sackville ER remains at one third service capacity, open from just 8am to 4pm daily.
“We continue to work on recruitment for emergency department physicians trying to reach our goal of 24/7 service here,” said Wheeler-Thorne. “That work is ongoing as is the retention work, because as much as recruitment is important, the retention is equally important.”
Beal still considering classrooms in SMH
After the presentation, Wheeler-Thorne also confirmed that Horizon is under negotiations with Beal University Canada to lease the former Queen’s Unit of the hospital as classroom space for a new nursing program the private university hopes to establish in New Brunswick.
Beal University Canada is currently undergoing an approval process through the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC) for its accreditation as a university, but as of March 13, the MPHEC had not yet received a program proposal for the Bachelor of Nursing degree program.
Wheeler-Thorne says the space Beal is considering in the Sackville hospital is not currently used for clinical purposes and if the deal goes through, the rest of the hospital won’t be impacted.
“We have a former inpatient unit that’s currently vacant, primarily office space and some equipment storage,” says Wheeler-Thorne. “They are looking at that footprint to see if it’s going to meet their needs.”
“We’re very excited that they’re looking,” says Wheeler-Thorne. “The space, should they move there, would be shared space between hospital staff and university employees and students. So we’re really hoping that they will come and join us.”
A spot for quiet reflection
Campaign poster for Rest Restore Reconnect, showing rendering of planned garden courtyard. Photo: Erica Butler
If Beal manages to open for business at the Sackville hospital, nursing students will also get to enjoy the new garden courtyard spearheaded by the Sackville Memorial Hospital foundation.
Rest, Restore, Reconnect campaign director Carolle de Ste-Croix told the crowd on Thursday that the new comforting and relaxing outdoor space will be especially welcomed by hospital staff, patients, and visiting families. “Imagine being able to go to an area for quiet reflection, enjoy some fresh air, read a book uninterrupted, bring Mom and Dad for a cup of tea and a conversation outside,” said de Ste-Croix. “Or more importantly, unwind during or after a stressful shift or visit to a loved one.”
The foundation has already commissioned a design for the new garden from a landscape architect, and it’s expected that construction could start in late spring with the project completed by fall. Evans says even though he starts out each campaign with nagging doubts about making the fundraising goal, “We always succeed. People in this town are very generous,” says Evans. “And so I have every reason to believe we’ll succeed.”
Horizon comes to Tantramar Council
Horizon Health CEO Margaret Melanson will be speaking to Tantramar council on Monday at 3pm, in a special meeting at Sackville town hall.
Wheeler-Thorne says the presentation will be a chance to talk about Horizon’s partnership with the Rural Health Action group over the past year, and to look foward to “collaboration 2.0”, the next phase of cooperation.
The Rural Health Action Group had previously presented to council summarizing their activities and successes, including the work of a Services Design Working Group which prepared a vision for primary care delivery in Tantramar. The report was submitted to Horizon, but has yet to be released publicly.
Wheeler Thorne says primary care will be part of the discussion on Monday. “I’m sure it’s going to be discussed because I think provincially the government is committed to helping improve access to primary care,” says Wheeler-Thorne. “And part of our discussions for the next phase will be looking at what kind of primary care access can we help improve in the Sackville area?”
The meeting takes place Monday at 3pm at Sackville Town Hall and will be livestreamed.
Article by: Erica Butler, CHMAFM.com