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Former St. Anthony doctor still baffled by unexplained firing

Dr. Alexis Caro-Guzman
Dr. Alexis Caro-Guzman

Dear editor, On May 9, 2017, I, Dr. Alexis Caro-Guzman, Family Physician and Emergency Physician for 11 years at Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital, was working on the night emergency shift and attending a patient with shortness of breath.

I was suddenly pulled away from my patient and into a meeting with Barbara Blake, VP of Labrador-Grenfell Health (LGH), and Tony Wakeham, CEO of LGH.

They told me I was being terminated.

They informed me there was “no reason” and that, as per my contract, they could terminate without cause or reason. An audio recording of this meeting has been circulated on the Internet.

In an article published on Feb. 8, 2017 by The Aurora, “Labrador-Grenfell Health Appoints New VP of Medical Services” Dr. Gabe Woollam, the new VP, expressed that he has, “Worked to maintain an environment which attracts and retains physicians.” So why has he remained silent regarding my termination?

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I ask Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA, who was once very critical of LGH’s management and leadership style when he was member of the opposition, and who even advised me to go to the Office of the Citizen’s Representative regarding matters of harassment by LGH managers in the past, why he has now changed his tone as the Liberal Party have taken over power.

It is unfortunate Mitchelmore has not said a word about this incident and not even returned my calls regarding an explanation for this unprecedented event.  

Both the public and myself are baffled by the unexplained decision to dismiss me without cause. Everyone is looking for answers.

I pose the simple question to the LGH Board of Directors, the aforementioned managers, and the public in general: what is the explanation for all of this?
Was my termination from employment due to my criticism of LGH administration over the years for the lack of a triage system at Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital. This system was recently implemented after considerable resistance by the hospital’s management.

Or was the decision to terminate me made based on my active involvement in improving patient wait times at the emergency department of the hospital in February 2017.

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Or was it because I advocated for patients’ best interests and well-being when I felt they were not being treated to good standards of practice by some medical consultants at the hospital?

Or was it because of my activism and assistance in recruiting and retaining family physicians and specialists for the Northern Peninsula and Southern Labrador by eliminating the discrepancies that have long existed between physicians working in The Northern Peninsula and those working in Labrador (despite both communities being isolated and both communities forming part of the same organization of LGH)?

These discrepancies have acted as obstacles to recruiting and retaining physicians for the St Anthony area and Southern Labrador. Or was my dismissal a simple case of a narcissistic organization using bullying, harassment and discrimination to single out a physician who has come from Colombia, South America, and strived extremely hard for 11 years to improve the health system of the community he became so very fond of.

I ask the Board of Directors of LGH, and the public, to stand up for their rights and not accept unilateral decisions by managers without consultation with the board members.

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Some managers seem not to know how to care for the people of the community they ought to support; they appear to have pursued their own personal agendas. I strongly believe some managers of this community's health service should give way to a more progressive, sensible, innovative and compassionate leadership to act with integrity and respect.

If not, the community will continue to lose valuable physicians leading to repeated failures in physician retention.

The public and the Board of Directors of LGH should have the last word.

Ultimately, the people that lose include the most vulnerable and sick who require services and professionals to advocate for them because they often cannot advocate for themselves.


Dr. Alexis Caro-Guzman, MD

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