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The Saint John Regional Hospital. Image: Brad Perry

Horizon Health Touts Improvements To Health-Care Delivery

By Brad Perry Feb 13, 2023 | 4:53 PM

Horizon Health is touting what it describes as improvements to health-care delivery made in recent months.

The health authority’s interim president outlined some of the more than 70 initiatives undertaken during a Monday news conference.

“The 70 process improvement projects that we have embarked upon over these past few months have been focusing on our patients and their needs,” Margaret Melanson told reporters.

Melanson said ambulance offload delays have been trending down in Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton over the past few months.

The average delay has gone from 213 minutes to 94 minutes at The Moncton Hospital, from 58 minutes to 31 minutes at the Saint John Regional Hospital, and from 64 minutes to 36 minutes at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton.

Melanson credits collaborative work among physicians, nurses and care providers for helping to make it happen.

“Coming together, looking at what do we need to do to quickly address the needs of these patients, have their care plan identified very, very quickly,” she said.

The work, said Melanson, is part of a larger priority to improve patient flow at Horizon’s health care facilities across the province.

Improving patient flow is one of four “Critical Action Priorities” introduced by the health authority six months ago.

Other priorities include improving access to health-care, community engagement and patient experience, and retention and recruitment of staff.

Melanson said retention and recruitment is the health authority’s “greatest concern” at this point in time.

Numbers provided by Horizon show that while 801 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses have been recruited since April, 537 have left over the same period.

Melanson said one thing they hear during exit interviews is how nurses want more schedule control to improve work-life balance.

“We have begun a couple of different pilots on self-scheduling as well as looking at other best practice models across Canada to change the methods in which we are scheduling staff,” she said.

Other initiatives highlighted by the health authority include:

  • adding social workers to emergency departments in four regional hospitals
  • introducing patient monitors in wait rooms of five Horizon hospitals
  • increasing operating room time after hours and on weekends for hip and knee replacements
  • reducing the waitlist for mental health services by 70 per cent through single-session/one-at-a-time therapy
  • expanding mobile crisis teams throughout the health network
  • launching an after-hours psychiatric clinic in Moncton

Suzanne Johnston, Horizon’s trustee, said acknowledged that there is still a lot of work to be done.

“What we’ve learned overall in these past six months is that no one action, no one change, no one person will fix our system,” said Johnston.

“It’s going to take many people with many ideas, different prototypes, pilot projects, attempts to make our system better.”


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