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Primary care clinic planned for Fredericton’s northside to take on 10,000 patients – in 2025

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A 19,000-square foot primary care clinic is being planned for Fredericton’s northside. The plan includes 10 to 12 physicians, as well as other health-care professionals, to take on 10,000 patients in the region. But it won’t open until spring of 2025.

The plan was revealed during a Horizon Health board meeting Wednesday, where committee leaders updated one another on what’s going right, and what needs improvement.

“We have signed a letter of intent to lease, with the lease holder in the Brookside Mall,” said Margaret Melanson, interim CEO of Horizon Health Network. “This will provide access for probably at least 10,000 residents for improved primary care access once it's available.”

The Fredericton region has the most people without a primary care practitioner, within Horizon’s jurisdiction.

Melanson says the model of collaborative care is more attractive to physicians and nurses, so she hopes recruitment for the clinic won’t be too difficult.

But they won’t have access to the space – which was once a COVID-19 vaccine clinic – until the spring of 2025.

According to Horizon officials, 30 per cent of people who present to its emergency rooms would not need to be there if they had primary care access in their community.

And for those who do have access to primary care, just 34 per cent can make an appointment to see their practitioner within five days.

The meeting gave attendees a look at Horizon’s primary care clinics.

There are 46 clinic sites, with 395 full time health-care workers, including 51 physicians and 60 nurse practitioners.

Of those, 24 per cent support walk-ins, and 50 per cent are open evenings and weekends.

And 46 per cent are still paper based, with the rest using electronic records.

A clinic in Sackville, N.B., opened in September. Three physicians have seen 450 patients in person, and 100 virtually, since it opened.

NATION-WIDE SEARCH FOR HORIZON'S NEXT CEO

Board attendees also heard about a plan to search nation-wide for Horizon Health’s next CEO. Officials said they are aiming to have a further update in few months.

Melanson has been in the role since summer of 2022, and did not say whether she would throw her hat in the ring.

“I'll say, firstly, it has honestly been the privilege of my career to be able to serve in this role of interim CEO since July of 2022 and to work with this executive team,” she told reporters after the meeting. “We've been extremely fortunate to work together so effectively to pivot and change the process and the strategy that we've been undertaking to be able to very quickly address issues and make improvements.”

She said she recognizes that there needs to be some permanency to the role. She said she will work with the board of directors, and see “how the future progresses.”

“I recognize that as a new board of directors comes forward, it is obviously within their purview as per the legislation to go forward to seek who will be the very best candidate to serve Horizon into the future,” she said.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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