St. Anthony doctor says he was terminated without cause
Dr. Alexis Caro-Guzman received notice of his dismissal May 9
A family physician in St. Anthony is claiming LabradorGrenfell Health has dismissed him without cause.
On the afternoon of May 9, Dr. Alexis Caro-Guzman was in the middle of an appointment when he was called out of the emergency room at Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital.
That’s when he got the news that his position was terminated.
Caro-Guzman says LabradorGrenfell Health provided him with the option to have a lawyer or representative present for a meeting by 7:30 a.m. the next morning. He says, however, it would have been impossible for him to secure anybody with such short notice.
He chose to receive the news right then and there. Caro-Guzman says he asked the reason for his termination, but he was not provided one. Instead, he says he received the explanation that, as he had
the right to terminate his relationship with them, they, too, had a right to terminate their relationship with him – according to an agreement signed between the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA) and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.
He received notice that he would receive a severance package.
Caro-Guzman says the message was, “We’re terminating you today, you don’t have a right to be here with us anymore, here is the notice we’re paying for you, off you go and that’s it.
“Without reason, without explanation whatsoever, without cause,” he added. “It’s a dismissal without cause or at least that’s what it appears to be.”
Caro-Guzman says he was “super distraught,” as he returned to his appointment to complete his final emergency shift.
“I couldn’t possibly function at that time,” he says. “I had just lost my job.”
Caro-Guzman, who was coming up on 11 years with Labrador-Grenfell Health at the time of his termination, feels he has developed a positive relationship with the community and with his patients during his stint in St. Anthony – a place he notes where there has been difficulty trying to recruit doctors like himself.
“If you have somebody who has committed a considerable amount of time in their lives to working in a community like this, where the relationships that I have constructed with my patients are good, and where many people want to see me, how is it possible for a regional health organization to do something like this?” he asks. “And to leave the patients who so desperately need the help of a physician like that without considering the best interests of the public.
“Tony Wakeham (the CEO of Labrador-Grenfell Health who dismissed Caro-Guzman) represents an institution that is part of the government. How is it possible that a government can permit something like that?”
Caro-Guzman feels the decision was made without the best interest of the public at heart.
“I can’t believe in this day and age, in a place like Canada – that is supposed to be a democratic country – that somebody can just terminate your employment without reason,” says Caro-Guzman.
St. Anthony Mayor Ernest Simms agrees and says CaroGuzman should have a right to some kind of legal counsel. But in this situation that’s not the case, given the nature of the dismissal.
“I’ve never heard of a situation before (like this),” Simms says. “I always thought there had to be a reason, that people had to be treated fair, with proper respect and everything else. But that’s not the case here. That scares me.
“Where we’re living in a place like rural Newfoundland, where we work so hard to try to get doctors and retain them, somebody can just dismiss people at will… there’s something wrong with that. I do not agree with this.”
Simms believes Wakeham needs to re-evaluate what has been done and that government should step in and do something about the direction of Labrador-Grenfell Health’s operation.
He wants to see all doctors given the dignity and respect they deserve, and believes CaroGuzman should be retained in his position. He says they’ll do whatever they can keep him.
“We want to see this rectified if possible,” says Simms. “Put Dr. Caro(-Guzman) back to work.”
In response to a request from the Northern Pen, LabradorGrenfell Health indicated it will not be providing any details out of respect for the privacy of the employee-employer relationship.
Alexis Caro-Guzman (left) and St. Anthony Mayor Ernest Simms are both upset with Caro-Guzman’s termination as a family physician at Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital in St. Anthony.