At the end of the day on Nov. 22, Sooke’s two medical clinics, the Evergreen Medical Centre and the Harbour Family Medical Clinic, will close their doors for good. They are being replaced by the new West Coast Family Medical Clinic, slated to open on November 28.
The new clinic, currently under construction in the old Shopper’s Drug Mart site in the Sooke Evergreen Mall, will be the new home for Sooke’s six current family doctors’ practices.
Despite a new location, name, and look, many things will stay the same. Drs. Anderson, Forsberg, Pocock, Rabien, Saunders, and Vally will continue to see all their current patients in the new clinic. Their familiar staff will continue to greet patients at reception. Their current phone numbers will stay the same.
“The Sooke doctors are each making a significant investment in building the clinic and improving the delivery of health care in our community,” says Dr. Pocock. “We have been working cooperatively towards this new clinic for the past five years, and now it’s finally a reality.”
The new clinic will also be home to the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s Integrated Health Network. The Integrated Health Network, currently comprised of a registered nurse, registered dietician, social worker, and administrative assistant, is designed to provide services to support the local physicians and their patients in managing chronic disease.
The West Coast Family Medical Clinic will continue to offer the Sooke Youth Clinic which provides health care to any youth between the ages of 13 and 25 on Tuesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. In addition, Dr. Saunders will continue to operate his maternity practice from the new location. WCFMC will also host visiting specialists several times a month, including specialists in child psychiatry, adult psychiatry, general surgery, endocrinology, and internal medicine.
Dr. Anderson says, “One of our goals in building the new, larger clinic with fully computerized records is to attract new doctors to work in Sooke, so they can take on residents currently without a local family doctor. We are actively recruiting more doctors.”
“Unfortunately, until this happens, we won’t have the capacity to take on any new patients,” Dr. Rabien cautions. “We hope we will have an additional doctor soon. Until then, we will continue to run an after-hours urgent care clinic so Sooke residents who don’t have a family doctor, or who are unable to wait to see their own doctor for a scheduled appointment, have local access to medical services.”
Previously, the urgent care clinics moved between the two existing doctors’ offices depending on the day of the week.
“Now it will be easier for everyone, as the urgent care clinics will always be in the same place,” says Dr. Forsberg.
Hours for the urgent care clinic will stay the same: weekdays 5 to 8 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Sundays and most holidays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Residents should note that the urgent care clinic stops accepting additional patients about 30 minutes before closing time.
Moving two separate doctors’ offices into a single larger clinic is a huge undertaking. Both clinics will be closed from Nov. 23 until Nov. 27 inclusive while the move is underway.
During move, the doctors advise that for non-urgent medical matters, their patients can access The Nurses Help Line at HealthLink BC (www.healthlinkbc.ca) by dialing 811. For more urgent problems, patients can to go to the Walk-in Medical Clinic at St. Anthony’s at, 582 Goldstream Avenue in Colwood. Doctors will remain on call for maternity and hospice patients. For other emergencies, patients should dial 911 or attend the nearest emergency department.
The doctors also advise that patients on medication should check that their prescriptions are filled to cover the closure period.
We are pleased to continue working closely with VIHA and the IHN to deliver integrated primary and community health care in the Sooke region,” says Dr. Saunders. “We are fortunate that we have good partnerships in place. The South Island Division of Family Practice (SIDFP) has provided us with support during our transition, and will provide assistance with doctor recruitment.”
Divisions of Family Practice is an initiative of the Ministry of Health and the B.C. Medical Association to improve patient access to local primary care, as well as ongoing professional support for family physicians. There are currently about 30 divisions of family practice throughout B.C. representing an estimate 87 per cent of all family doctors in the province.
“The initiative to establish the West Coast Family Medical Clinic has provided a unique opportunity to learn about the complexities associated with this type of project. By supporting the Sooke physicians, our goal is to capture and share valuable knowledge with other physicians and other Divisions of Family Practice throughout BC to help with the development of similar initiatives,” says Andrew Hume, SIDFP Executive Director.
West Coast Family Medical Clinic opens Monday, Nov. 28 at 1300-6660 West Coast Road. Phones: 250-642-3913 or 250-642-4233.
Integrated Health Network: Phone: 250-519-5295.