Perth-Andover hospital's extended closure adds stress

The indefinite closure of the Hotel-Dieu Hospital in Perth-Andover is causing added stress on the residents of the northwestern New Brunswick village.

Flood caused extensive damage to Hotel-Dieu Hospital

The indefinite closure of the Hotel-Dieu Hospital in Perth-Andover is causing added stress for the residents and health professionals of the northwestern New Brunswick village.

Patients have been moved to other hospitals in the area and village doctors have set up temporary clinics in the community, which was hit with a massive flood more than a week ago.

Health Minister Madeleine Dubé has committed to reopening the Perth-Andover hospital. (CBC) (CBC)

Health Minister Madeleine Dubé said the hospital will re-open but it is not clear how long it will take the repair the damaged hospital.

On Friday, a flat-bed truck was hauling away a dumpster full of carpet and furniture. It was the latest in the ongoing clean-up of the hospital.

When the flood waters began rising on March 23, Horizon Health Network quickly moved patients to several local hospitals or facilities.

The extensive damage done to the Perth-Andover hospital means many of those people do not know when they may return to their community hospital.

Kevin Goodine has been in palliative care for six weeks and his wife, Kathy, has been sleeping at his side on a cot every night.

The Goodines are at the hospital in Hartland and the toll is beginning to add up.

"We're extremely tired and [we] just want easy roads instead of rough roads. And it seems like every day there's something else," Kathy Goodine said.

She hasn't been home in days because she's worried about leaving her husband for too long.

"I was getting a break every now and then, get a good night's rest in my own bed, little things you just don't think of," she said.

Health-care workers stressed

While patients are concerned about being scattered to nearby health facilities, health-care workers are worried about the viability of stretching health-care services out across a large region.

Staff arrange medical files in a temporary health clinic in Perth-Andover. (CBC)

The Perth-Andover clinic is temporarily housed in an old Knights of Columbus hall.

Peter Moore, the chief of staff at the Perth-Andover medical clinic, has staff spread out from Hartland to Grand Falls.

Moore said he isn’t sure how long they will be able to continue working under these conditions.

"We can keep it up for a month. We might be able to do it for two months, but longer term I think you'll find that something's going to break," Moore said.

But it isn’t clear when they will be able to return to the hospital.

The province’s health minister told the legislature on Friday the hospital sustained "significant damage."

"The building was severely contaminated by the flood waters," she said.

"As a result, emergency leave for employees is being extended."

The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure started a comprehensive evaluation of the structural damage to the hospital on Friday.

Even though the community has been assured the hospital will re-open, Moore is among the residents and health workers who are worried about the hospital’s future in the community.

"Despite all the reassurances we've had, we worry that there's some reticence about opening up the emergency room as quickly as it could be opened. Our emergency room, our [operating room], our lab, our X-ray and our medical floor are new additions built after the last flood specifically so that they wouldn't be affected by the flood," he said.