The recent retirement of a public health nurse in Sooke has Mayor Maja Tait concerned that local health services are leaving town.
Mary Dunn was recently replaced by Christine Havers, a public health nurse from the West Shore office, who works with three other nurses to service Sooke.
All three are interchangeable between Langford and Sooke offices, according to Island Health officials.
Tait believes a public health nurse should be based out of the community the service is extended to.
“We appreciate the service that we get, but it feels like we’re losing a position to Langford,” she said.
“With a growing population that we have, Langford probably needs another nurse and we need one too to service both populations adequately.”
The B.C. Nurses Union doesn’t allow hiring of people based on where they live, said Island Health in a statement. Still, Tait feels the local factor is missing from the bigger picture.
“If the person doesn’t live in Sooke, I understand that, but for me, Mary was based out of the Sooke office, so it felt like she was a health nurse for Sooke, because when you have someone based out of Langford, they’re working out of a different office, they’re commuting in. It just seems strange,” she said.
Despite the change, interchanging public health nurses have occurred between the West Shore and Sooke offices for the last 10 years, said Kathy Easton, manager for Vancouver Island Public Health.
“The replacing public health nurse worked in the Western communities for a number of years, including Sooke, so she (Hansen) was a really good fit for the Sooke office,” Easton said.
Unlike her predecessor, the new nurse works a 0.8 position, meaning she works 80 per cent full time, or four days a week, compared to five. This, however, as Easton points out, doesn’t take any edge off previous services, such as calling or visiting families dealing with pre-natal or post-partum issues.
It also means Havers won’t get to the West Shore office as much, with most of her shift focused in Sooke.
“We still continue to send people to Sooke to do the work they’ve always done out there, because no clinic ever runs in Sooke without nurses from West Shore going out,” she said. “The level of service is the same in Sooke, we haven’t reduced any service.”