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Douglas Mantz wasn’t planning on taking a trip to Amherst, NS Thursday, but he had no choice.

The Sackville, NB resident has an infection from a recent operation and was dismayed when he arrived at Sackville Memorial Hospital’s emergency department only to find it was closed for the day.

“I think it’s criminally irresponsible for the people running the place, to run it like this. Why is it that politicians can’t raise taxes in order to do the job properly? They should be fired from their jobs,” said Mantz.

A doctor shortage at the hospital’s emergency department, which the Horizon Health Network called temporary, forced the closure.

The hours at the Sackville hospital’s emergency department have been from 7 am to 4 pm seven days a week since last October.

All patients in need of urgent medical treatment were asked by the health network to seek treatment at another hospital.

Sackville resident Debbie Sears called the request ridiculous.

“I was born in that hospital back in the good old days,” said Sears. It’s just a damn shame. That’s all I can say. It’s just too bad.”

Local MLA Megan Mitton said having the emergency department closed at night has been hard on Sackville-area residents.

“What that means is people don’t have access to emergency health care right at their fingertips that they need. It’s putting people at risk,” Mitton said. “It’s very stressful. It’s hard on people’s physical health to not have quick access to care. It’s hard on people’s mental health as well.”

Both Mantz and Sears are worried about the future of their hospital.

“I’m worried too,” Mitton said. “I’ve been working with the Rural Health Action Group. I’ve been having meetings with Horizon [Health Network]. I met with Dr. John Dornan, CEO of Horizon yesterday. I’m advocating for recruitment and retention efforts to be ramped up.

Nova Scotia Health said the Cumberland Regional Health Care Center in Amherst saw a noticeable increase in New Brunswick residents registering for the first time in its emergency department on Thursday, but there were no ambulances coming from out of province.

A spokesperson for Horizon said the goal is to restore emergency department service to 24-hours a day, seven days a week and they’re working collaboratively with the community on recruitment.

The hospital’s emergency department is scheduled to re-open Friday at 8 am

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