Trillium Health Partners to be independently investigated after allegations of abuse of leadership
The province will appoint an independent investigator to look into complaints of abuse of authority by hospital management at Trillium Health Partners, the Star has learned.
The allegations, made by an anonymous group of doctors in two letters written by their lawyers, include allegations that the hospital administration uses « oppressive acts of intimidation » against its doctors, including threats to revoke their hospital privileges.
The claims are strongly disputed by the hospital system and its leaders, who say they favor third-party review.
The letters, obtained by the Star, allege doctors were silenced, taken medical leave or left the large hospital system altogether as a result of the administration’s actions. The letters allege the loss of professional staff and the « silence of debate among physicians in a public hospital » raises concerns about whether Trillium Health Partners can provide safe and effective care.
In a statement to The Star, THP said an internal review of complaints conducted earlier this year could not substantiate the allegations. He also said Anonymous Physicians did not use the « formal processes » the hospital system has made available to physicians to raise concerns, including submitting them anonymously « through a service of third-party whistleblowing ».
The most recent letter on behalf of the Anonymous Doctors – delivered to the Department of Health in late May – said the internal review of THP was not enough and again called on the province to launch an independent investigation.
Following questions from the Star, the department confirmed that it « intends to appoint an independent third party to review the matter ».
“THP welcomes this additional review and looks forward to receiving and acting on advice to improve our workplace and the quality of our care,” THP told The Star. THP is the largest community hospital system in Ontario and includes Credit Valley Hospital, Mississauga Hospital and Queensway Health Centre.
In its statement to the Star, THP said it immediately initiated a review by its general counsel after receiving the letter through Ontario Health on January 5.
The review found that « based on the information submitted, the complaints identified in the letter could not be substantiated, » THP said, adding that the report was completed in January and shared with Ontario Health and the ministry.
THP released the internal report on Friday, following questions from The Star.
On its website, THP said it will work with the department on its « third party review of complaints ». He also said THP’s internal report was limited by the information described in the doctors’ letter, confidentiality issues, and « not having knowledge of or access to the real complainants. »
“As a result, there may be more information that we could not take into account,” THP said.
Brooke Shekter, one of the doctors’ attorneys at TTL Health Law, told the Star that the doctors insist on remaining anonymous because they « fear for their livelihoods ».
Shekter said she couldn’t say how many doctors were involved because of those concerns.
« I can’t say anything that would suggest the group of them, who they might be from. »
In March, CTV News reported doctors’ concerns after obtaining their initial letter alleging a « toxic culture rooted in harassment, intimidation and threats of loss of privileges, targeting doctors who dare to question the taking of hospital decision… it has created an environment where doctors are afraid to practice medicine.
Shekter said following the CTV report that she was « inundated with calls from doctors, nurses, employees and staff. »
Shekter said a third-party review of THP management was needed. She said their internal review of initial complaints in January could not have adequately looked into the matter because none of the doctors she represents were consulted.
» It’s ridiculous ; you can’t investigate yourself,” Shekter said in an interview. “For the hospital’s own lawyer to say that he conducted his own examination… This is not a legitimate investigation. And that’s exactly the kind of management these doctors are complaining about.
Shekter outlines the doctors’ concerns in the second letter, which alleges that hospital management – and in particular chief of staff Dr. Dante Morra – abused their power over doctors and staff, « undermining morale. » of its professional staff », resulting in a « detrimental impact ». on patient care.
The letter alleges that Morra, who has held the position since 2013, targets doctors who express concerns about the hospital’s management. In some cases, according to the letter, Morra threatened to revoke or « de facto » revoked hospital privileges. As a result, « doctors are leaving the THP or remaining silent in the face of hospital mismanagement out of fear for their livelihoods, » the letter claims.
A lawyer for Morra said his client welcomes the province’s appointment of a third party and that his « duty is to protect the public and ensure standards of conduct, quality and performance. »
« He takes this duty seriously, » his attorney said, noting that THP provided the Star with letters from its patient services committee, chief nursing officer, chief medical officers and program heads and medical directors, which were written in the wake of CTV’s March report.
« You have received letters from over 40 identified physician leaders and other THP leaders in support of the management and human resources practices used at THP to support excellent patient care and a respectful workplace » , Morra’s attorney told the Star.
In response to follow-up questions from the Star, THP said in a statement that it takes « every complaint seriously » and has « used our available channels » to review the doctors’ claims. The statement again notes that the anonymous doctors did not register their complaints using THP’s internal channels.
« While we are unable to respond precisely to unattributed claims regarding private comments by anonymous individuals or ambiguous descriptions of process or behavior, we would like to point out that Dr. Morra has an excellent reputation as a leader, doctor and teacher, » THP said in a statement, noting that there are no complaints about Morra in his employment file. « Our board and management team support him. »
On Monday, THP board chair Christine Magee sent a letter to the ministry saying the board was asking for a speedy third-party review and that it had « full confidence in the hospital management », including including his chief of staff. The letter authored by Magee was posted on THP’s website on Monday.
Shekter said the department has informed his company “that it will engage a third party to conduct a review of concerns raised by Trillium physicians.
“We have previously expressed our concerns to the ministry about the independence, impartiality and scope of any investigation, and we have informed the ministry that we would be happy to cooperate with their investigation,” Shekter said in an email. .
The anonymous group of doctors alleges that doctors are leaving the THP because of the administration’s tactics. THP told the Star that there are « more doctors than ever at THP », noting that the organization added 119 professional staff, compared to 1,311 in 2019/2020, which represents an increase of 9%. THP’s professional staff includes doctors, dentists and midwives.
THP also noted that concerns raised about physician retention and morale are being expressed « in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. »
« The past two years have been unprecedented times for anyone working in health care, » said THP, noting that surveys by the Ontario Medical Association found that physician burnout had increased. during the pandemic.
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