A former nurse and nursing professor who recently raised concerns about cleanliness and professionalism at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton says she is encouraged by recent improvements.
Penny Ericson wrote a report about her personal experiences at the hospital during her husband's lengthy illness earlier this year. The report was made public about a month ago and Ericson says she's already seen changes for the better.
"People are wearing name tags. They're identifying themselves. It seems to be a bit cleaner. There seems to be a movement afoot to make some changes," she said.
"I think that's very positive and I think it's a credit to the people who are leading the charge to make a difference — to make a positive change.”
Ericson says there's still a lot more to do and says she's been invited to meet with Horizon Health Network CEO John McGarry on Tuesday.
She says she plans to lobby for a greater role for nurses, which she believes would improve the quality of care.
Blames budget cuts
Ericson, who ran unsuccessfully for the NDP in the 2003 provincial election, contends the health-care system has been trimmed in the wrong places.
"It's taken this province a long time to take a deep breath and do things that other provinces have been doing for a long time," she said.
"We don't have the same stationery between all the hospitals. We don't have an ordering system for the whole province. We don't have a lot of communication things that save money. So don't put it on the back of the staff to save the money."
Ericson previously blamed the health authority’s board for not providing experienced supervisors to ensure the hospital’s hallways, washrooms and cafeterias are cleaned properly. She said the hospital was focused on saving money because the provincial government had put it in that position.
The provincial government's health-care budget in 2013-14 is $2.5 billion, representing zero growth over last year.
In April, McGarry said the organization's financial challenge is "substantial" but that "less money does not have to mean a reduction in the quality of the services we provide."
Ericson outlined her concerns and observations in a 27-page document titled Carl Ericson's Last Class, which she sent to officials at the Horizon Health Network, the Department of Health and the New Brunswick Nurses Union in August.
Her husband, Carl, was a teacher and was being treated at the hospital before his death earlier this year.