St. An­thony doc­tor says he was ter­mi­nated without cause

Dr. Alexis Caro-Guz­man re­ceived no­tice of his dis­missal May 9

Northern Pen - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN ROBERTS ST. AN­THONY, NL

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.

STEPHEN ROBERTS/THE NORTH­ERN PEN

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.

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