The provincial government will create a new primary care centre, hire more family doctors and other health professionals in an attempt to improve health-care services in Sooke.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said the new team-based program will start within weeks, with the South Island Division of Family Practice expected to file an application by Oct. 1 to Island Health.
“We’re ready to move to action very soon,” Dix said.
The goal is to hire more general practitioners and team them up with nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, mental health professionals, social workers, physiotherapists and others and group them together in one facility.
Sooke physicians have worked on a team approach to medical care for years, but are in need of more resources, Dix said.
The West Coast Medical Clinic currently has a waiting list of more than 4,000 people waiting for a family physician.
Several years ago, former mayor Wendal Milne identified the problem and launched a committee to look for solutions. Over the last six years Mayor Maja Tait has championed the issue.
The new health-care approach is part of the B.C. government’s “renewed system” for primary health-care, unveiled last May. The plan shifts the focus for family health care to team-based care.
The province has pledged funding for 200 new family doctors and 200 new nurse practitioners, as well as 30 new university training spaces for nurse practitioners. The community health care centre is part of the focus.
Dix said Sooke will be one of several locations for a primary care centre throughout the province, but will be one of first in service due to the work that has already gone into the project locally.
“The place we go first is the place where communities are most ready, where there has been local leadership,” said Dix.
On Friday, Dix, along with Tait, Premier John Horgan and Island Health officials, toured the local medical clinic, public health office and Arye Manor, meeting with doctors, paramedicals and patients.
Following the visit, the contingent laid out its plans to local media.
Horgan, who is also the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca, said the key to the program is the community and its support for the program.
“This has been 15 years in the making from the ground up. This is not about the start but the end,” Horgan said.
For Tait, praised by both Horgan and Dix for her commitment to Sooke health care and in her tireless effort to be heard by senior levels of government and to hear from all stakeholders, the wait is finally over.
“Tremendous work has happened,” she said.
“My motto has always been that I don’t want to leave anybody behind. It’s checking in with the stakeholders and making sure we’ve gotten everything right.”