There is an urgent need for better diagnostic x-ray facilities in Sooke.

Sooke mayor pushing for better x-ray facilities

Sooke’s current x-ray facilities, operated by West Coast Medical Imaging, operates only one day a week for two hours.

Mayor Maja Tait is being told to “go political” and be prepared to “rattle a few cages” in an attempt to get better x-ray diagnostic services in Sooke.

For years, the Primary Health Care Services Working Group, chaired by Tait, has worked at getting better service in Sooke.

Sooke’s current x-ray facilities, operated by North Vancouver-based West Coast Medical Imaging, operates only one day a week for two hours. It also creates analogue x-rays, far less superior than the doctor-preferred digital x-rays.

Part of the problem is that Sooke is less than 28 kilometres from Victoria General and St. Anthony’s Treatment Centre in Langford, operated by West Coast Medical Imaging, where full x-ray facilities are located. It means patients are expected to travel that distance within Greater Victoria.

The reasoning doesn’t sit well with Tait, who said it’s a challenge for many residents to travel the distance on the often windy and hazardous Sooke Road.

“They’ve (policy makers) clearly never driven out here at this time of the year,” Tait said.

“I just imagine folks at Ayre Manor when somebody falls and is suffering from whatever and then have to be bundled up and driven to Langford and wait for hours [for an x-ray]. It’s just not an acceptable situation.”

Tait said as Sooke grows so does the need for improved medical diagnostic facilities, adding there is a “solid business case,” based on patient volumes alone.

To receive a certificate of approval to bill the province for services, x-ray facilities must apply to the advisory committee on diagnostic facilities, which is a committee of the Medical Services Commission. However, all diagnostic facilities (whether they intend on billing MSP or not), must be accredited by the Diagnostic Accreditation program, a program of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C.

Health Ministry spokesperson Laura Heinze said the hours of operations are determined by the operator, and the machines the facility uses are also determined by the private provider.

Coun. Rick Kasper said although the x-ray facility is run by a privately-owned company, the licence was issued on the need to serve the people of Sooke and now that level of service needs to be challenged.

“You have to fight this fire,” Kasper told Tait at a recent council meeting. “You need to go political on the issue, rattle a few cages.”

Kasper said it’s unfair that other residents in the Capital Region are getting better diagnostic service than those in Sooke, simply based on how far you live away from a full-service clinic.

“If you’re not going to fully use the billing licences that been authorized for x-ray and diagnostic services then you shouldn’t have the illing licence or that authorization, nor should you be allowed to transfer that licence into another community to upgrade their facilities, while we get the bum’s rush on the very end of the road in the Capital Region. That’s wrong,” he said.

West Coast Medical Imaging did not return phone calls.