Plenty of money to spend – except in Sooke

Local politicians have spoken long and hard, but to deaf ears.

Premier Christy Clark and Health Minister Terry Lake were gleeful as elves at Christmas when they announced they were opening up the purse strings to extend operating hours for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines in hospitals and clinics.

Lake said he wished the ministry had acted sooner on what has been a long-standing concern of doctors and health authorities. “The radiologists have certainly been letting us know about it,” he said.

The extra scans should start to show up by year’s end, and once the increase reaches $20 million a year in 2019, there should be 45 per cent more procedures done than the current rate.

Still the province prefers to ignore Sooke’s legitimate complaints on the growing lack of medical diagnostic services here.

For years, district council has had concerns over health-care quality, timeliness and availability.

The biggest beef, but not the least, is the lack of adequate x-ray facilities.

The currently facility, run by a private company, only operates one day a week for two hours.

The equipment is so outdated that doctors tell their patients not to book an appointment there, but go to Victoria General Hospital in View Royal or St. Anthony’s Treatment Centre in Langford.

The x-ray facility is only part of the problem.

Sooke needs more doctors, but can’t attract any physicians without a larger clinic.

Then there’s the lack of medical programs for youth and women. Women who have been diagnosed with at-risk pregnancies must go to either the West Shore or Victoria to see a doctor. And Sooke’s ambulance response time lacks well behind other Greater Victoria jurisdictions.

Sooke is considered part of Greater Victoria, a metro area. The bureaucrats don’t believe we’re isolated because we’re within 28 kilometres of a major medical centre.

They should have traversed windy Sooke Road last week when heavy rains and winds flooded the roadway and backed traffic up for hours.

Local politicians have spoken long and hard, but to deaf ears.

The municipality has offered to fundraise for proper x-ray facilities, but to no avail.

The Health Ministry is stuck in its own red tape and powerless – or unwanting – to fix the problem.

It seems overly simplistic that if the private operator can’t provide adequate service, it should be asked to leave or lose its billing licence.

Lack of common sense and will is at play here. It’s too bad it puts peoples health at risk

•••

Kevin Laird is editor of the Sooke News Mirror. He can reached by email at klaird@blackpress.ca or by phone at 250-642-5752.