New Medavie president pledges to maintain extramural health services

The newly hired president of Medavie Health Services New Brunswick pledged not to cut services to elderly patients once the private company takes over the province's extramural program in the new year.

Richard Losier to run company’s merged operations including extramural and Ambulance NB

Richard Losier, a former Vitalité Health Network official, has been hired to oversee Medavie's merged operations that will include the province's extramural program. (Radio-Canada )

The newly hired president of Medavie Health Services New Brunswick pledged not to cut services to patients once the private company takes over the province's extramural program in the new year.

But a seniors advocate who has been vehemently opposed to the change isn't convinced that will happen.

Richard Losier will run the company's merged operations, that  include Ambulance New Brunswick, the extramural program and Telecare 811, in the newly created position. He is a former Vitalité Health Network official who has worked in the healthcare field since 1992.

On Jan. 1, Medavie is expected to take over the province's extramural care program, which provides home healthcare services to New Brunswickers.

This is going to be the biggest challenge of my career.- Richard Losier, new president of Medavie Health Services New Brunswick

The province's decision has received a significant amount of opposition from seniors groups, and even Losier's former employer, Vitalité Health Network.

Losier says he's no stranger to controversy, having been the executive director of the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre.

"It was a hot spot," he told CBC's Information Morning Moncton

Still, he admitted taking the helm of Medavie operations is going to be a huge challenge because of the opposition and criticism.

"This is going to be the biggest challenge of my career," he said.

Seniors advocate skeptical

Cecile Cassista, the executive director of the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents' Rights, says she doesn't believe Losier's pledges.

"This is a new person coming on board, how does he know what the details are?" she said.

Cecile Cassista is with the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents' Rights. (Pierre Fournier/CBC News)

She argued that anytime a private company takes over a public service, profit becomes the most important factor.

"It's all about making money above patients. There's no way around it," she said.

'I don't cut services'

Losier doesn't start his new job until after the holidays, so he said he still needs to be debriefed by his new staff.

But he said he wouldn't have taken the job if it meant significantly cutting New Brunswickers' services.

"People who know me definitely know that I don't cut services, I've never cut services," he said.

"Of course, we have to be more efficient and effective — we have to keep up the times, but I've always promoted development."

He said he thinks Medavie can improve patient outcomes by better integrating the three services that will be under its umbrella.

On Monday, about 175 people protested Medavie's takeover of extramural care outside of Premier Brian Gallant's constituency office in Dieppe, along with other concerns about Liberal government health care decisions in New Brunswick.

You listen to Information Morning Moncton's full interview with Losier here:

Richard Losier is the new president of Medavie Health Services New Brunswick. 10:32

With files from Information Morning Moncton