By Ross Maund and Dave Wilkin
When Dr. Jan Goossen decided to leave his role as Chief of Staff (COS) for Muskoka Algonquin Health Care (MAHC), MAHC contracted a ‘head hunting’ organization in Toronto to lead the search for a replacement (early 2016). They struggled to find qualified candidates. Then Dr. B. Iannantuono, a Bracebridge based surgeon, kindly stepped forward and was appointed to fill the role on an interim basis (early 2017), while recruitment efforts for a permanent COS continued.
Fast forward to about a year ago, Huntsville’s Dr. Roy Kirkpatrick, a long standing and well-respected physician and surgeon in Huntsville, stepped forward and submitted his name for consideration to fill the COS position. This should have been a game-changing opportunity for MAHC – a well-respected surgeon with deep roots in Muskoka who has the confidence and respect of patients, medical practitioners, hospital staff and more. Here is a summary of Dr. Kirkpatrick’s key contributions and accomplishments (from the public domain):
- A Queen’s graduate, over 30 years of distinguished service in Huntsville
- Recipient of OMA Service Award for General Surgery – 2018
- Appointed to Specialty Education Committee & Regional Advisory with the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Canada
- Northern Ontario School of Medicine – General Surgery Resident Program, Associate Professor & Sectional Chair, General Surgery
- Independent Assessor of the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Ontario
- Worked with Canadian Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and CUSO international
- ‘Rural Roadmap for Medicine in Canada’- Implementation Committee
Stunningly, a year later, Dr. Kirkpatrick is turned down, and the search continues. A quick scan on Facebook (Listen to the People), and local media, reveals a strong public response of disappointment, even outrage over this decision. Surely it defies common sense, and its handling by the MAHC board feels disrespectful. While Dr. Kirkpatrick has been gracious in response, many are left with a sense that there is something underhanded or hidden going on with the MAHC board decision making. Much of their last seven years of hospital redevelopment planning showed preference for single-siting, disregarding the strong wishes of the people. They only recently reversed course, backing two full acute-care sites with a non-unanimous board vote, in a closed-door board session, after three years of community backlash. It is important to know redevelopment planning is still in the early stages, with critical decisions around designs, capital allocation, and funding (including our local share) to come.
This latest decision, in not choosing the community respected and eminently qualified Dr. Roy Kirkpatrick, has created community disapproval, driving a media backlash and continuing mistrust. What other potential COS candidates are likely to apply now, if Dr. Kirkpatrick was deemed unqualified and kept in limbo for a year? How much longer must we wait until this key position is permanently filled? Business experience tells us that key positions, like COS, which remain open for long periods of time bring risks and are a red flag to the MAHC board’s credibility.
Something is not right at MAHC, and the Ministry should investigate.
Ross Maund and Dave Wilkin are former business executives and former MAHC board directors
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