Nov. 7, 2020

By Sheryl Pepin, community developer for the Harvey and McAdam areas

As a community developer for Horizon Health Network, I have the pleasure of working in the community I have called home almost my entire life. Harvey is where I grew up, and it is where I have chosen to put down roots and raise my family.  

I could list a great number of reasons why I chose to stay in Harvey, or why others move here from other cities, towns or provinces. The one that rises to the top is the sense of community and togetherness that exists in our little neck of the woods. The small community of Harvey has a history of coming together in times of difficulty, and the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been no exception to this. 

When the province issued its State of Emergency, shutting down all non-essential services, closing schools, and mandated people to isolate in their homes, we knew this had the potential to have some pretty significant impacts on the health and well-being of people living in our community.

The Harvey Community Network (HCN), formerly Harvey Community Days, board came together to come up with a proactive approach on how we could respond to the effects of COVID-19 as a community. This board is made up of many community leaders including myself and Dr. Daniel Fletcher, who chairs the committee. 

Access to information

One of the first things we wanted to ensure was the community was accessing accurate information.

We developed a COVID-19 Community Awareness Facebook page which acts as a centralized location for our community to disseminate accurate information as it pertains to COVID-19 and Public Health guidelines. It also allows us to post community-specific information on available resources and serves as a way for the community to stay connected.

We were also aware that because we live in rural New Brunswick, access to reliable internet service is an issue and not everyone in the community would be able to access information on the internet. We put together a COVID-19 resource package and mailed it out to all community members living in the greater Harvey area.

Community helpers

The board was concerned about the most vulnerable in our community, and given the geographically widespread area of our very rural community, keeping tabs on everyone would not be an easy task. We put out a call on the Facebook page looking for community members who would volunteer to be a point of contact and do check-ins with vulnerable neighbours. The response to this request was amazing and we were able to pull together an extensive list of community helpers which was included in the resource package.

Also included in the resource package were two sheets of paper, one red and one green. The red sheet means they’re not OK, the green means they’re OK. Residents stick these sheets of paper in their windows to indicate their status, and community helpers monitor the paper in their neighbours’ windows.

Virtual social connectedness

The effect of social isolation on people’s mental wellbeing was a concern and we wanted to help people to maintain social connectedness that is so prominent in our community. The Community Spirit Challenge was developed as a way to bring people together.

Geared towards families home with their children, it provided daily activities that could be done in the home. If you didn’t have the supplies on hand, these were provided for free and delivered to doorsteps, by our group of volunteers. Some other virtual activities took place as well, including weekly Facebook live bingo, and virtual team trivia nights.

Prior to COVID-19, there were a number of exercise classes available in the community for all ages, levels and abilities. We wanted to ensure the community remained motivated to be physically active, even though they were now stuck at home. A couple of the exercise classes were transitioned to a virtual class offered over Facebook live and classes were led by community volunteers four days a week.

We also held a virtual Physical Activity Challenge, which was a spin on our annual Harvey Activity Challenge, which promotes physical activity in the community. A calendar of virtual physical activity opportunities was provided in the resource package, and community members were encouraged to track their minutes of physical activity for the month of July and submit those for a chance to win prizes.

Food security

How people were accessing food in the community was a concern.

We do not have a grocery store in Harvey, and transportation can be an issue on a good day where often people rely on family or friends to transport them to run errands such as getting groceries. 

Let’s be honest: at the height of the pandemic people in general were scared to go to grocery stores (for a multitude of reasons). Through a partnership with the United Way of Central New Brunswick, and the grocery store in the neighbouring community of McAdam, we were able to start a weekly grocery delivery service that allowed community members to order their groceries over the phone or by e-mail and have them delivered to their doorstep

The United Way also had some additional funding for seniors in particular, and we worked with them to identify that a meal delivery service would be much needed in the community. By partnering with Westphalia Bakery, we were able to deliver 40 free meals a week to seniors in the community up until the end of July.

What we realized is this meal delivery program was really just a short-term solution to a pre-existing gap in community. We are now in the process of developing a sustainable meal delivery program that will be volunteer-led. 

One of the biggest barriers for that to happen is our lack of industrial community kitchen space that meets Public Health guidelines for the licensing requirements for that type of program.

We are working with various community partners and funders to undertake a renovation of the kitchen at the Harvey Memorial Community Centre to make this program a reality.

In my capacity as a Horizon community developer, I supported all these community-led initiatives that are all tied to the determinants of health that influence the health of our communities, including securing the United Way funding for the grocery delivery and meal delivery programs, in addition to helping coordinate the programs.

What we saw with COVID-19 is that it didn’t necessarily create new issues, but it did put a spotlight on issues that may have pre-existed in our community.

I believe this has pushed us all to think more on what we can do better, and in some ways, it has actually helped us to come up with solutions and move things forward at a pace that we might not have been able to accomplish in the past. 

If we can learn anything from this experience it is that we have an opportunity to work toward more resilient communities who are better positioned to cope with the impacts of something like a global pandemic.

Sheryl Pepin

Sheryl Pepin has been a community developer with Horizon since 2013, serving the communities of Harvey and McAdam. She is a graduate of the University of New Brunswick’s Business Administration program and previously worked in the health and education sectors. Sheryl has a long history of volunteering with various community organizations.

Sheryl takes pride in raising her three children in her hometown of Harvey and hopes to instil a sense of community and civic engagement in them. Afterall, our children are the future!

Sheryl is passionate about bringing people together and finding innovative solutions to the needs of the community. Sheryl is always willing to listen to suggestions from the community – some of the best ideas have come from casual conversations with community members.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Sheryl at

September 25, 2020 – A partnership between Horizon’s Queens North Community Health Centre (QNCHC) and the Minto Public Library has facilitated a paint a rock, plant a rock program that enriches whole-person literacy.

The concept of paint a rock, plant a rock is simple: you paint a rock, and leave it somewhere for someone else to find, and bring a little joy to brighten someone’s day.

This trend of painting and planting rocks has grown in popularity over the last few years. Painted rocks are left for others to find, collect, move to a new location, and often photos are posted on social media with hints of where to find them.

Katie Morrell, registered nurse at QNCHC, said the idea for the partnership with the library stemmed from the annual Kids Fun Run (hosted annually by QNCHC). During the 2019 event, they had participants paint rocks and take a local trail to hide them.

“Our plan was to go back and to take groups out to find them, but when we were supposed to go, it rained. So, we left them in the trail for anyone to find,” Katie said.

Ally Thornton, a summer student at QNCHC, said when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, they wanted to find activities for families to do together.

“We wanted something that emphasized mindfulness, and something different for people to do when really, there was nothing to do,” Ally said. “We really wanted to put a focus on the hiking and mountain biking trails that we have in Minto because they’re utilized, but it seems to be by everyone outside of the community.”

Building off that idea, staff from QNCHC put together paint a rock, plant a rock kits that include paint, brushes, stencils and a sample rock. These kits are dropped off at the library, where families can pick them up – at no cost. That’s it.

Also included in each kit is information for the Minto Mountain Bike Trails, where families are encouraged to plant their rocks once they’re painted.

Mary Lambropoulos, library manager at Minto Public Library, said once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, all in-house library programs were halted, so when staff from QNCHC approached the library for a partnership that took library users out of the library, she was thrilled.

“It worked really well and fit really well with the timing because of COVID-19,” Mary said. “It’s really nice because they include the brochures for the biking trail, so it’s a wonderful physical literacy partnership.”

Mary said from the feedback she heard from participants was that it was enjoyed by both the younger and older generations.

“It’s a really great intergenerational activity. I spoke to a couple of grandmothers who expressed what a wonderful time they had with their grandkids,” Mary said.

One participant told her she spent part of three weekends with her grandchildren.

“The first weekend, they went out and found rocks, then they painted them the second weekend, and the last they went out to leave them behind for others to find,” Mary said. “And at the same time, they looked for other painted rocks people may have hidden.”

Mary said she is so pleased that people are taking advantage of opportunities for fun, outdoor activities.

“COVID-19 has affected everyone, but it’s so wonderful to have people outdoors and enjoying our trails,” Mary said. “What fun memories for those kids.”

Isabel Camp, manager of Horizon’s Queens North Community Health Centre, said the first priority identified in Grand Lake’s Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) was the need to address the increasing rate of adult overweight/obesity in the community.

“The CHNA was completed in 2015 but looking for ways to encourage community members to live a healthy, active lifestyle is always something we, as health care providers should always be doing,” Isabel said. “And it’s even better that the paint a rock, plant a rock comes with no cost to the participant.”

Katie Morrell

Katie Morrell graduated from the University of New Brunswick with a Bachelor of Nursing in 2003, and then joined the Horizon team at Oromocto Public Hospital. In 2007, she transferred to Queens North Community Health Centre to work in palliative care. In 2009, Katie joined the team in the walk-in clinic.

At the walk-in clinic, Katie began running a high-risk foot clinic and other community programs. She’s part of a team that works to provide prevention and wellness programs for the community.

Katie also helps run three major community events throughout the year: the Harvest Fest, the Family Glow in the Dark Winter event, and the Kids Fun Run. All three events encourage physical activity, healthy nutrition, and positive mental wellbeing.

Katie loves working in her community to promote wellness and preventing illness.

Ally Thornton

Ally Thornton graduated from Minto Memorial High School (MMHS) in 2016. That summer, she spent her first summer working at Horizon’s Queens North Community Health Centre, where she’s returned to work every summer since.

Ally graduated from the University of Prince Edward Island in 2020, with a Bachelor of Science, and is completing internship placements to become a registered dietitian.

Over the five summers spent at QNCHC, Ally said she’s been so lucky to work alongside health care professionals on community projects, some of which include a nutrition fair at the high school, children’s cooking and physical activity programs at local youth centres and supporting the Community Food Smart programs.

Ally says working at Horizon has given her so many great opportunities and she looks forward to where she’ll go next!

August 28, 2020

By Dr. Dan Fletcher, family physician, Horizon’s Harvey Health Centre

As a fee-for-service family physician based out of Horizon’s Harvey Health Centre, I am fortunate to work along many great teammates each day – from our passionate nurses, to our dedicated maintenance worker, to our motivated community developer.

We are more than just an access point for primary care in our community. We are a group that comes together to strive to promote wellness in our community outside the walls of our facility. The national ParticipACTION challenge in June 2019 was a shining moment in this.

Participants from the Relay Around Harvey during the part of the ParticipACTION challenge to become Canada’s Most Active Community in the summer of 2019.

In partnership with the Harvey Community Hospital Foundation, Community Developer Sheryl Pepin and I set out to motivate the greater Harvey area to go all out in an attempt to become Canada’s Most Active Community and win $150,000 for recreation.

To accomplish this, we set out to make use of our “Harvey Activity Challenge” we had started a year before. During the month of May, community members were invited to participate in any form of physical activity, including free activities put on by local organizations – community circuit classes, sports, dance classes and group walks. All of this was recorded on our Harvey Activity Challenge sheets, as participants tallied up their daily minutes of activity.

Staff from Harvey High School during the 2019 PartcipACTION challenge.

At the start of June, all these activities rolled into the national ParticipACTION challenge, as community members logged all minutes into the ParticipACTION app and watched our ranking nationally and within Atlantic Canada over the two-week competition.

After finishing nationally within the Top 10, we were crowned the “Most Active Community in Atlantic Canada” and received $20,000 for community recreation – no small feat for our close-knit community.

From this $20,000 win, we set out to better several aspects of our community that have been hard at work bettering themselves over the past years but needed additional help.

The Harvey Memorial Community Centre was in dire need of renovations to the rink’s ice surface. With the use of $15,000 of the community’s ParticipACTION winnings (along with fundraising and other grant sources), the facility was able to install new, modern boards, along with converting the gravel surface of the rink to concrete.

Passing the torch during the Relay Around Harvey in the summer of 2019.

With these improvements, the surface can now be used year-round for countless community activities – from public skating and hockey in the winter months, to ball hockey and community events in spring to fall months.

The Harvey Curling Club required renovations to make the club a sustainable community venue (utilized not only for curling but community social events and fundraisers). With the $3,000 given to the facility, a washroom was installed to increase access for community members with mobility issues.

Walking trails also benefited from the ParticipACTION Challenge, with the final $2,000 going toward a future trail in development behind the health centre – with the hope of it being able to be used by patients involved in various programming, including Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

A group of community members who enjoy walking on the trails throughout our community.

Our goal will be to link this trail to various trails in the community, including the Catharine Pendrel Lakeside Trail and Harvey High School trail – what a great example of a municipality, school and health centre partnering for the betterment of the community!

While the funds to complete projects is a wonderful benefit of the success of the challenge, the reach is far broader and longer lasting.

The challenge brought various components of our community together – schools, organizations and those of various ages and socioeconomic status – and emphasized the importance of physical activity in wellness of the individual, but also the wellness of the community.

New activity programs introduced continue, even during COVID-19 (until summer break, our community was doing live broadcasts of community member-led circuit classes).

Moving forward, I hope the community of Harvey can be an example that can be put forward to inspire other communities within the health authority compete to be “Horizon’s Most Active Community.”

Stopping for a selfie during the Relay Around Harvey in the summer of 2019, from left, Shawn Little, Dr. Fletcher, Melissa Little, and Alicia Little.

Health providers in all areas of care can serve as champions, seeking to motivate others to partake – from family doctors challenging those in their offices (or virtually), to speech language pathologists in tertiary care. 

We as health care professionals are such a powerful group to provide positive physical activity messages to our patients.

My challenge to all my fellow physicians and health professionals – bring your teams together and show that health care isn’t only focused on dealing with health issues once they arise, it’s about prevention by promoting physical and mental wellness! I know we can do this.

Watch out, 2021!

Dr. Dan Fletcher began his family practice in his hometown of Harvey Station in September 2012. He completed his Bachelor of Science, with honours, in biology and chemistry at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. He then completed his medical school training at Memorial University in St. John’s, N.L., and his residency in family medicine in Fredericton.

Along with a busy practice that includes teaching residents and medical students, Dr. Fletcher is involved in many volunteer leadership roles in his community promoting community cohesiveness, wellness and physical activity.

As well, earlier in 2020, Dr. Fletcher was one of 15 Community Health Recognition Award recipients for his passion for wellness and bringing people together. In addition to an award and certificate to display, Dr. Fletcher received $500, which he donated to Harvey Helps.

Disclaimer: the ParticipAction challenge took place in 2019, prior to COVID-19 and the public health directives related to physical distancing and mask-wearing

July 3, 2020 – A harm-reduction program, born out of a partnership between a community health centre and local pharmacy, ensures a reduction in blood-borne-infectious diseases among intravenous-drug users.

Horizon’s Queens North Community Health Centre (QNCHC) partners with the Minto Shoppers Drug Mart, AIDS New Brunswick and community volunteers in a harm reduction program.

The health centre provides needle exchange kits and inhalation kits, which are assembled by community volunteers, and are distributed through the Minto Shoppers Drug Mart.

Jason and Kyle, two volunteers put together needle exchange kits and inhalation kits.

Isabel Camp, manager of QNCHC, said the program came about by listening to the needs of the community.

“This issue was brought to our attention by community members who were drug users, and requesting clean needles so they could be safe,” Isabel said.

Amanda Diggins, executive director of AIDS NB, said they were able to provide the support for the two programs to get underway in Minto.

“We provided support and training, and will continue that on an ongoing basis,” she said. “We’ll always be there to help with the changing needs of the community.”

The needle exchange kits include needles, alcohol swabs, sharps containers, cotton pellets, and condoms.

The inhalation kits include one glass tube, two pieces of latex (which are used to cover mouthpiece), 10 brass screens and one wooden stick.

Robin Hebert, Minto Shoppers Drug Mart owner and pharmacist said the individuals using and injecting drugs were already purchasing needles at the pharmacy.

“However, since we started distributing the free kits, through this partnership, more needles and supplies are being used,” Robin said. “This uptake leads me to believe that previously there may have been more needle sharing occurring prior to the program initiation.”

Currently, in N.B. harm reduction programs are available in major cities (Fredericton, Moncton, Saint John and Miramichi). But Isabel said residents in Minto don’t always have the ability to travel to one of the cities.

She said the most common harm reduction measure for intravenous drug users is a needle exchange program.

“Harm reduction is a pragmatic public health approach that shifts the focus away from drug use itself and rates of use, to the consequences or adverse effects of drug use,” Isabel said.

Part of the rationale for this approach is that many clients are either unable or unwilling to stop injecting.

From November 2019 to June 2020, Isabel said 355 needle exchange kits were distributed and 545 inhalation kits were distributed to clients.

“This is a snapshot picture of the utilization of the program,” she said. “By providing sterile needles and injection equipment, we can reduce the risk for blood-borne infectious disease transmission.”

“This program also provides the opportunity for people to return used products in a sharps container for safe disposal,” Robin said.

Positive outcomes associated with access to harm reduction programs:

Source: CATIE

Isabel Camp joined Horizon in September 1994. She has a Bachelor of Science in human ecology from the University of Prince Edward Island, and completed her dietetic internship from the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg.

She has worked as a dietitian and nutritionist in various roles, such as a consultant in rural Manitoba, public health in Nova Scotia and as a clinical dietitian at Horizon’s Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital with the pediatric team.

For the last 14 years she has worked in community health care (primary health care) as the manager of three facilities: Horizon’s Queens Community Health Centre, Oromocto Health Centre and Fredericton Junction Health Centre.

Isabel is very passionate about health care and the determinants of health and how these affect our health.

The village of Minto is located in the Fredericton Area, approximately 50 kilometres northeast of the city of Fredericton. Minto falls under the Grand Lake Area’s Community Health Needs Assessment.

In addition to the village of Minto, the Grand Lake Area includes the villages of Chipman, Cambridge-Narrows and 14 other communities spread across the predominantly rural region of New Brunswick.

CHP EN Fredericton

The Fredericton Area covers a large geographic area in the central part of New Brunswick and represents a very culturally diverse community. The Fredericton Area is also home to three of New Brunswick’s Indigenous communities.

There are more than 50 communities in the Fredericton Area, including Cambridge-Narrows, Chipman, Doaktown, Pilijk (Kingsclear) First Nation, Fredericton, Fredericton Junction, Gagetown, Harvey, McAdam, Millville, Minto, Nackawic, New Maryland, Oromocto, Sitansisk (St. Mary’s) First Nation, Stanley, Tracy, Welamukotuk (Oromocto) First Nation, and Upper Miramichi (Boiestown).

Horizon has 13 community health centres in the area and our staff at often go above and beyond in helping people be healthy. Hospitals in the area include Horizon’s Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital and Oromocto Public Hospital.

In the Fredericton Area, Community Health Needs Assessments  were completed for the Central New Brunswick AreaFredericton and Surrounding AreaGrand Lake AreaOromocto and Surrounding Area, and the Nackawic, Harvey, McAdam Canterbury Area.