What was the MAHC board thinking in not hiring Dr Kirkpatrick?

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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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26 Comments

  1. Perhaps a full out public outcry from concerned citizens of Muskoka will cause the MHAC Board to reconsider and reverse their decision regarding Dr. Kirkpatrick? Aka Listen to the people!

  2. You have told us nothing new in this article. Is the Ministry investigating? Who’s responsibility is it to get the Ministry involved?

  3. Dian Dolderman on

    One of the best doctors in Huntsville..Dr Kirkpatrick being overlooked is ludicrous. What is wrong with MAHC..?? He would be the best, most qualified person for the job..!!!!!
    The people need to be heard..

  4. Wendy Stuthers on

    What was the board thinking in not hiring Dr. R. Kirckpatrick as COS. They were not thinking. That’s the problem. This man has given us many years of dedication and is willing to add more dedication and time to help our hospital to keep running smooth. He is more than qualified for the position that he has applied for so what’s the problem? He is willing to apply himself for a position that nobody in Muskoka wants. Again what’s the problem? We have someone willing to take on this position and I am confident he will give it his best. So to the board “what’s the hold up”. This man deserves the chance to show what he can do.

  5. My guess would be that they have a candidate picked from another area who has not fulfilled their commitment there yet!

  6. How many directors on the Board are from Huntsville? How many directors are from Bracebridge?
    How is that many experienced people have applied to the Board and been declined without so much as an interview or telephone call?
    How is an accountable Board or organization not able to find a suitable candidate in over 1 year?
    How is this Board held accountable to the community it represents to ensue we have the best processes, administration, protocols and health care, with world class leadership and health care objectives that are measured?

    Collusion is a noun.
    What gets measured, gets done.

    • Obviously the mega one hospital option was still on the back burners – not the priority realities and needs for health care in ParrySound Muskoka

  7. It truly couldn’t get any simpler. The Board is answerable to the community. We have the right through The Freedom to Information Act to cut through the veil of confidentiality surrounding the Board’s decision. If I had to guess, I would assume that the Board wants a “lap dog” in the position: Dr. Kirkpatrick has far too much integrity for that.

    • I totally agree and am continually wondering why this board is still in existence?? Our politicians need to get involved here and do some investigating. This Board does not seem to be answerable to anyone and acts in their own interests only, with very little regard for anyone else in the community. Trust for these folks has completely gone, Vote of No Confidence issued, and yet they are still there doing sweet boo all to justify their commitments to the public. Any time there is a major issue in the news, people I know don’t pay much attention – they immediately check the latest news about the board to see what they are trying to push quietly through unnoticed during the latest distraction. Time to contact both our local politician for some immediate action (and if not forthcoming, vote them out!) AND the Ministry of Health – we need to get rid of this board once and for all.

  8. Margaret Weir on

    Dr. Kirkpatrick is a man of integrity, plain and simple. The higher you go in many organizations, the less ones integrity matters. Indeed, the Board may have little use for integrity, if they lack that quality, themselves. If they want a puppet, then they are not in the market for someone like Dr. Kirkpatrick, whose professional and personal life reflects his stirling character.

  9. I can’t help but note the number of supportive comments from the Huntsville area. If there are those from the Bracebridge area who are supportive of Dr. K they are substantially few in number in comparison to the those of Huntsville. This is not about area populatity, but the best physician for the job.
    Personally, I have been a fan of Dr K since the late 80’s when I first fell under his care.
    AT this time, I think Dr K would be doing himself a diservice if he now accepted this position as clearly, he would be serving those who have shown their disrespect for Dr Kirkpatrick and his gifts. Few of us would accept employment under such untennable conditions.
    The facility and the community it serves, has lost.

  10. Kathryn Henderson on

    I totally agree with all the above responses. The fact that they hired an outside firm to head hunt instead of looking within is a waste of our tax dollars. This looks pretty shady. I certainly don’t have any confidence in this board and if they bring someone up from the city when we have the perfect candidate, Dr. Kirkpatrick, right here, someone we all know and respect and have confidence in, I will not have any confidence in the boards choice . It’s who you know whether you qualify or not these days. And for sure they must just want a puppet, someone they can influence and easily manipulate. To have this position left open when you have the perfect candidate ready to step in is ludicrous. Something sneaky and underhanded going on here

  11. My husband and I would also like to know the reason Dr. Kirkpatrick, was denied the position. You have truly made a wrong decision.

  12. Here is the problem – the MAHC board should be answerable to the people, but it’s not. Oversight is through the LHIN, but it’s basically useless in these matters. The only real accountability is to the MOH&LTC , but they won’t get involved unless the hospital staff and/or community/local politicians, in sufficient numbers, demand it.

    This is the best article to read to gain better understanding of the issues with MAHC board governance. Sven Miglin is a past MAHC board chair:

    https://doppleronline.ca/huntsville/mahc-is-a-self-appointing-board-sven-miglin/

  13. II have been tracking MAHC’s operating performance now for some time, and it’s certainly no surprise to me that they’d turn their back on Huntsville’s OWN highly qualified physician in Dr Kirkpatrick. It’s obviously an inside job.

  14. Brent McVittie on

    As stated in previous posts, Dr. Kirkpatrick consistently portrays commitment to the patients of our community and beyond. He is a passionate, dedicated, selfless and well-respected member of the medical community. His experience and knowledge of Muskoka hospitals, along with his credentials make him the ideal candidate for the Chief of Staff position. I am disappointed in the Board’s decision, and the overwhelming public outcry needs to be heard.

  15. Enough of this farce! It is clear that the local community has no trust left in the hospital board and they must resign or be fired. It is past time for all municipalities served by the hospital to restructure the governance and administration of MAHC. I call on all local councils to pass resolutions calling for the dissolution of this incompetent board, who have treated our valuable resource like their private fiefdom. Time for the taxpayers to elect the hospital board and make it fully accountable to the people it serves. The hospital belongs to them not the LHIN, the board or the province.
    Celia Finley, Councillor, Ryerson Township.

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