'What am I supposed to do?': Mount Allison students in N.B. feel the effects of ER closures

The ongoing temporary overnight closures at the Sackville Memorial Hospital in Sackville, N.B. are now a cause for concern for students at Mount Allison University.

As students return to campus for the fall semester, some are worried that the closures at the hospital's emergency room could put them at risk for this fall.

"The main question is what am I supposed to do in that scenario?" asked Hannah Ehler, VP of external affairs for the Mount Allison Student Union.

Ehler said the Mount Allison Student Union (MASU) has shared their concerns with New Brunswick’s Minister of Health, Dorothy Shephard, in hopes it will bring forth change. She also encourages others with similar concerns to write a letter to the minister.

“We have designed these little paper bags with letter templates, envelopes, and stamps inside so that students can pick up one and write a letter to the Health Minister Dorothy Shephard expressing their concerns,” said Ehler.

According to Ehler, MASU is currently working with the university to create a solution that will address how they can get the urgent care they need when the emergency room is closed.

Athletes on campus, like James French, believes the closures can be particularly risky.

“There’s always the thought in the back of your mind about injuries, whether it's concussions, broken bones, torn muscles,” said French.

French said he knows a student that broke his hand while the ER was closed.

“He had to rest his arm on a pile of clothes in his room for the whole night because he couldn’t get treatment," he explained.

International students have also expressed that the problem needs to be solved quickly, otherwise students will continue delaying their treatment.

“You have over 600-plus students coming for orientation and the majority of those are international students and we partake in various events and accidents can happen at any time,” said Thorique Mckenzie, a third-year student.

“I know two international students who had ankle injuries. It happened on the weekend and they had to wait until Monday to get emergency care,” said Mckenzie.

Temporary closures at the Sackville hospital began in June.

This week the Horizon Health Network announced that overnight closures would continue from this Thursday until next Tuesday due to a physician shortage.

The town’s mayor, Shawn Mesheau, said he's been hoping to meet with the health network and the minister to find out what the next steps are for recruiting health-care workers to their hospital.

"What horizon was indicating to us was that the temporary positions, the folks would be back in the fall and that's what I want to verify with Horizon,” said Mesheau.

In addition to the temporary overnight closures on the weekend, Sackville’s ER will also be closed on Monday, Sept. 6 at 4 p.m. until Tuesday, Sept. 7 at 8 a.m.

Those in need of urgent care during their overnight hours will be diverted to hospitals in Moncton, N.B. or Amherst, N.S.