New Brunswick

Perth-Andover mayor worries the province will cut rural hospital services

The mayor of Perth-Andover is calling on the New Brunswick government to support and strengthen services in rural hospitals across the province.

Mayor Marianne Bell says 47% of people in New Brunswick live in rural areas

A resolution seeking government commitment to rural hospitals like Hotel-Dieu of St. Joseph in Perth-Andover will be presented at the annual general meeting of the Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick. (CBC)

The mayor of Perth-Andover is calling on the New Brunswick government to support and strengthen services in rural hospitals across the province.

"We're always looking to hear what the big picture plan is of a provincial government, because we really need our hospital to take care of our sick people," Marianne Bell said Thursday. 

"We just really want to hear a commitment from the new provincial government."

Bell will be presenting a resolution on rural hospitals at the annual general meeting of the Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick on Saturday. She said the resolution asks the union to seek a commitment from the provincial government to maintain support for rural hospitals. 

Perth-Andover Mayor Marianne Bell said she'd like to see more commitment to support and services at rural hospitals across the province. (CBC)

Bell said 47 per cent of people in New Brunswick live in rural areas. 

"We have strength in numbers," she said. "The more of us that demonstrate the importance of our rural hospitals, the more clearly we'll be heard."

Bell said she sent a letter to Health Minister Ted Flemming to explain why rural hospitals are important. 

Flemming was not available for comment.

Premier Blaine Higgs has already warned his government could be making some unpopular decisions, including program cuts, and he identified health care as an area where he wants to see measurable improvements. 

Earlier this year, Horizon Health Network closed six of its 22 beds at Perth-Andover's only hospital, Hotel-Dieu of St. Joseph, because of a registered nurse shortage. The beds were later reinstated, but Bell is worried the government will make more cuts to rural hospitals in the future.

"People deserve timely accessible care wherever they live," Bell said.

She said the duplication of services between Horizon and Vitalité in cities takes away from the services in rural areas. 

Mayor of Perth-Andover, Marianne Bell, will be presenting a resolution to the Union of the Municipalities of New Brunswick, in a push to save health care in smaller communities. She says there's a lack of understanding of the importance of rural hospitals. 8:46

"That's the elephant in the room," Bell said. "The duplication of services in our province is what's costing money, inefficient waste of money compared to the high quality of care delivered in a little place like ours."

She's hoping when she brings her resolution to municipal officials, that they'll be committed to ensuring equitable health care across the province.

"When the people speak, usually the government needs to listen," Bell said. "And we're hoping they will."

With files from Information Morning Fredericton

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