December 11, 2023

Marlene Saunders has been a patient at the Petitcodiac Health Centre since it opened in the late 1970s.

As of January, she started having to make monthly visits for medical testing.

“Each month I would come, I would notice signs that said don’t use the water or don’t drink the water,” she told Global News on Wednesday.

“So, this past Thursday when I came I was like, what is going on?”

She said she was unable to wash her hands after providing urine samples, and was concerned about how long the problem had been going on.

“Not only do the patients deserve better and the surrounding communities deserve better, the doctors deserve better and we should have basic water needs met,” she said.

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Roughly 24,000 people frequent the health centre every year for everything from medical testing to doctor’s appointments.

The facility runs on well water.

According to Blaine Lynch, Horizon Health’s regional director of Facilities, Engineering and Property Management, Horizon installed a new UV water purification system “earlier this year” in an effort to rectify the water quality issues.

“In July, it was determined that the new UV system needed to be recalibrated to ensure proper flow rate consistency,” he said in an e-mailed statement.

The water was safe for flushing and hand washing, reads the statement, but Saunders said disinfectant was provided and she was told the water was not safe for hand-washing.

Lynch said that “impact on health centre operations has been minimal,” and that the necessary changes had been made to the water purification system.

A Horizon spokesperson told Global News the boil order was lifted on Wednesday.

The village of Petitcodiac is part of the newly-amalgamated community of Three Rivers. Three Rivers Mayor Peter Saunders said many residents have expressed concerns about the water quality issue at the health centre.

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He said the water quality issues prevented certain services from being offered at the centre like eye washing and ear flushing.

“It’s unacceptable for a medical centre,” he said on Wednesday.

Mayor Saunders said there are plans to replace the facility, though he couldn’t provide a date when that would happen.

“The village has land available to give Horizon for the (new) medical center,” he said.

He said he was hopeful a new facility could offer services that weren’t offered at the current site, like mental health support.

Horizon was unable to provide information about the new facility before publication time.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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