Editorial: $6.5 million for health care badly needed

Help is on the way for people in the Cowichan Valley without a family doctor.

Help is on the way for people in the Cowichan Valley without a family doctor.

The provincial government announced last week that they are funding new primary care networks across the province, and the Cowichan Valley is one of the places that’s going to get one, backed by $6.5 million per year.

This will involve 36.2 full-time equivalent health care providers, including everything from family physicians to nurse practitioners, registered nurses, social workers and a clinical pharmacist.

The goal is to get 16,750 patients attached to a primary health care provider over the next four years.

This is badly needed. Like many smaller and more rural communities there is a shortage of family doctors — not enough to go around. Any new doctor moving to the area has their patient roster filled quickly, and walk-in clinics and the Cowichan District Hospital emergency room feel the brunt of those still waiting.

In Lake Cowichan things have been especially difficult, the community having experienced a full-on crisis in the last decade as numbers dwindled, culminating when the last family doctor in the area closed up shop. Since then, services have been provided piecemeal by a variety of health care professionals, up to and including a community paramedic program.

Small communities across Canada have found it difficult to attract and retain family doctors. The overwhelming need actually works against the community, as anyone who moves in finds themselves quickly swamped, with few avenues for relief for holidays or illness because there may not be another doctor in the community to do it. It’s the chicken and the egg. Many also simply want to live in bigger cities, and there can be issues of financial interest and prestige, lifestyle and culture.

Even Duncan, more than a tiny dot on the map, has big recruitment problems.

All of which has left many, many people without a family doctor.

Family doctors are so important because for most people they are the entry point to the health care system. Think you’re having some kind of health issue? You call your family doctor and set up an appointment. If they can’t take care of your problem, referrals to specialists or services flow from there. Not having enough of them leads to clogged emergency rooms and people not getting the care they need in a timely manner. Family physicians are the first link in the chain on which the health care system is built.

The new primary care network aims to mend what is broken and shore up that foundation. It’s warmly welcome.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Daylight Saving Time officially ends at 2 a.m. Sunday when it’s time to turn the clocks back one hour.
Time for a change

Put your clocks back one hour before going to bed Saturday night

Cowichan’s Nicole Pugh collects the ball deep in the Gorge end during her team’s season opener at the Sherman Road turf last Friday. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan United runs with the big guns

Women’s soccer team holds its own against defending Div. 1 champs

Tim Gosley will be passing on some of his puppetry wisdom with a talk and workshop in Duncan in November. (Submitted)
CVAC ready to play next month in Duncan

Puppetry, Lego, basketry and more

Police service dog Herc helped RCMP locate and arrest suspects in the Ladysmith area on Oct. 23, 2020, related to a stolen vehicle. (Submitted)
RCMP nab prolific property offender in Ladysmith with assist from police dog Herc

Police attempted to stop the vehicle but it fled from the area towards Chemainus.

Matt Arnett of the Cowichan 49ers gets his head on the ball during his team’s recent meeting with the Cowichan Steelheads. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen0
Cowichan 49ers make improvements against UVic

Steelheads still looking for first goal of season

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

CBSA. (Black Press Media File)
4 sentenced in B.C. steroid smuggling, distribution ring that spilled into U.S.

Canadian Border Services Agency announced the results of a lengthy investigation it called ‘Project Trajectory’

Most Read