A cancer patient at the Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst is upset nurses are unable to serve her one of the few things she likes to eat — Popsicles — due to what the nurses say are budget cuts.
Gail Godin, 56, has lung cancer and his been in the hospital for three weeks.
"I can't eat much," she says. "Jello, and cold fruit sometimes. Some water.
"I've forced a little bit of stuff down, but I eat very little. I feel like I'm starving."
One of the things that brings Godin relief is a frozen Popsicle treat.
She had requested one several times before and the nursing staff was always happy to help.
But lately, she's been denied.
"I was surprised because I was told they weren't allowed to go on another floor [to get a Popsicle] and I said, `Why?' said Godin.
"I was surprised. And they said, `Because of the budget.'"
Godin has been visited by two nurse managers to discuss the matter in the last week. One of them said the policy stands while the other said an exception can be made for Godin.
Godin says the situation is ridiculous and something needs to change.
Vitalité Health Network official Stéphane Legacy says cost-cutting measures may be the reason for Godin's difficulty getting a Popsicle in the hospital.
The health authority responsible for the Chaleur Regional Hospital ran a deficit of $9.6 million in 2012-13, but recorded a $10.2-million surplus the following year.
To achieve that turnaround, Legacy says changes had to be made beyond cutting almost 300 jobs.
"We've reviewed a lot of our floor stock that we have on our units which is food supplies, or medication, or medical and surgical supplies," said Legacy, who is the chief operating office for Vitalité's Acadie-Bathurst zone.
"We usually track what we've been using in the past years and adjust accordingly. So that was one of the floors that we removed some of the items on the food supplies."
Legacy says the medical floor where Godin is receiving care is the one least affected by staff cuts at the hospital with only one nursing job cut. He believes the problem lies with recent changes to procedure.
"It's a process issue and I think when we change a lot of stuff at one time, then for sure there's bound to be something missing somewhere," said Legacy. "So our job will be to review our process with the nurses on the floor, on each floor actually, so they know the process that needs to be taken."