Sooke health-care facility takes another step forward

Capital Regional District board backs mayor’s proposal

A health-care facility for Sooke has won the backing of the Capital Regional District board.

The approval comes two weeks after the CRD’s housing committee supported a motion from Sooke Mayor Maja Tait.

Tait, who has called the lack of health-care facilities in Sooke, a crisis, said more than 4,000 Sooke Region residents are without a family doctor. While the community is too close to Victoria to be classified as rural, it’s geographically isolated. The 30-kilometre trip to the nearest hospital in View Royal by winding Highway 14 takes at least 45 minutes by car.

The only X-ray facility here is analogue, which doctors say is inadequate. The clinic that operates the service is only open two days a week.

The Sooke Region spans from East Sooke to Port Renfrew, a distance of about 95 kilometres, has no hospital or urgent care clinic.

A medical clinic, with seven doctors operates Monday to Friday, with an emergency access clinic operating on a limited basis on weekends.

CRD directors passed Tait’s motion 23-1, with only Victoria director Geoff Young opposed.

Young said he was unsure whether Sooke needed a regional health-care facility more than other parts of the region.

“I’m really reluctant to weigh-in on a single part of the region because I just don’t know whether health-care outcomes for the region on a whole are going to benefit with the decentralization of facilities,” Young said.

Tait said she understood Young’s concerns, but pointed out Sooke is the only community in the regional district divided by a highway and which takes in such a vast area.

She was impressed, though, that most directors understood the challenges.

“Other places do have the same challenges as we do, but I don’t think anyone has the same restrictions,” Tait said. “This isn’t just abut Sooke but the region of Juan de Fuca, all the way out to Port Renfrew.”

The next step in the process is for the local Primary Health Working Services Group to identify what is needed in the health-care facility and that will be done in consultation with local physicians as well as the South Island Division of Family Practice.

Health-related capital projects are generally funded through cost sharing in which the Capital Regional Hospital District picks up 40 per cent of the cost and Island Health the rest, on behalf of the province. Operating costs are funded by Island Health.