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Weekend ER visits drop in Moncton and Saint John after warning


New Brunswick’s Horizon Health Network says its emergency departments in Saint John and Moncton saw a drop in registrations this past weekend, following a warning for people to stay away unless it was life-or-death.

Horizon says registrations inside the Saint John Regional Hospital’s emergency department fell 30 per cent this past weekend, compared to the weekend average for the previous 12 weeks. The health authority says the Saint John Regional’s ER saw 76 patients on Saturday, and 78 patients on Sunday — compared to the daily average of 110 patients seen over the last 12 weeks.

Registration at the Moncton Hospital ER fell 13 per cent this past weekend, compared to the last 12 weekends, according to Horizon. The health authority says the Moncton Hospital saw 76 patients on Saturday, and 94 patients on Sunday — compared to the daily 12 week average of 98 patients.

In a statement, Horizon says the number of patients who required emergency or urgent care stayed consistent this past weekend with reductions coming from the number of cases considered non-or-less urgent.

The Moncton Hospital only saw one patient this past weekend for treatment deemed as being non-urgent by Horizon. The Saint John Regional Hospital saw four patients seeking non-urgent care during the same period.

Examples offered from Horizon as issues considered non-urgent included sore throats, toothaches, rashes, flu symptoms, STI testing, and prescription refills.

On Friday, Horizon Health CEO and interim president Margaret Melanson said the ER issues were due to staffing shortages caused by COVID-19 and scheduled vacations.

Health Minister Bruce Fitch also voiced concerns about a weekend music festival in Dieppe and the potential impacts on local emergency departments.

Paula Doucet, president of the New Brunswick Nurses Union, said she was “a bit taken aback” by Friday’s warning, and specifically, Horizon’s mention of scheduled vacations being a factor.

“We are in the worst nursing shortage we’ve been in years,” said Doucet. “This is nothing new.”

“The ER departments at two of our largest hospitals had probably the same type of staffing they’ve had for the last number of weeks according to those who are working in the inside. Nothing major has really changed except that more and more people are off with stress leave, burn out, or they’re leaving the profession.” Top Stories

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