While Horizon Health says a meeting at Perth-Andover’s Hotel-Dieu of St. Joseph was cancelled on Friday due to safety concerns, Perth-Andover Mayor Marianne Bell says those concerns were unfounded.
Bell said she is “not impressed” with what happened.
The hospital is one of the six scheduled for a cut in emergency room hours.
Horizon Health said the meeting was meant as an invitation-only affair featuring 25 community leaders, but said 150 people showed up.
“The RCMP were called to the hospital, and it was not a safe environment to conduct the meeting as planned,” Kris McDavid, a spokesperson for Horizon Health, said in an email.
“We regret not being able to meet with community leaders to discuss health reform.”
But Bell doesn’t understand why Horizon thought there was a safety issue.
“There was nothing dangerous going on,” said Bell.
“People were in chairs and standing and talking … I still don’t know why they didn’t come out and bring those of us who they had invited into a meeting like we had been invited to.”
Bell said she was invited by the regional health authority, but was never told the meeting was cancelled.
“I didn’t know the meeting was cancelled,” said Bell. “I just knew that somebody said they saw them going out the back door.”
‘Facing a crisis’
Criticism has been lobbed at the government and the province’s two health authorities since the move to reduce hours was announced on Tuesday.
The Liberals have threatened to try to bring down the government over the plans, while Premier Blane Higgs is facing opposition within his own party. One MLA, Bruce Northrup, said he can’t support the plan and another, Robert Gauvin, decided to leave the party and sit as an Independent.
“It should come as no surprise to anyone in this province, that our health-care system, is facing a crisis,” said Health Minister Ted Flemming. “That status quo is simply not acceptable because the status quo leads to deterioration.”
The affected hospitals will now close between midnight and 8 a.m., and stop accepting patients after 10 p.m.
Other hospitals affected are:
- Sussex Health Centre.
- Sackville Memorial Hospital, where surgical services will also close and be shifted to Moncton.
- Stella-Maris-de-Kent Hospital in Sainte-Anne-de-Kent.
- Enfant-Jésus Hospital in Caraquet.
- Grand Falls General Hospital.
Bell thinks cancelling the meeting had less to do with safety and more to do with difficulty selling the plan to reduce emergency room hours.
“They might be saying the security thing, but I think they just don’t have the support in place to put this plan forward,” said Bell. “I think they’ve got to start thinking about putting the brakes on it and coming up with a better plan.”
Bell said she still is waiting to hear back from Horizon Health.
“If I don’t meet with somebody when I invited them I would send them an apology and I would set up a new time to meet,” said Bell.
“But it seems to me they don’t want to meet with us because they don’t have a rationale, a logical rationale, for these decisions.”
Bell said the next step for the community is holding a rally, along with the other five affected communities, against the changes on Monday.