The CEO of an Ontario hospital who is a member of the province’s COVID-19 science table has been relieved of his advisory role after it was discovered that he vacationed in the Dominican Republic at a time when there was province-wide lockdown in Ontario.
In a recent statement, St. Joseph’s Health System confirmed that its CEO, Dr. Tom Stewart, travelled out of the country on vacation between December 18, 2020 and January 5, 2021.
In the statement, St. Joseph’s Senior Vice President, Brian Guest said: “We recognize and value the efforts of all our staff who have been working tirelessly and with great dedication. We encourage and support our staff taking vacation time while following public health advice.”
Also, the statement also included an apology from Stewart who said: “I regret this non-essential travel and I’m sorry. I recognize everyone should be avoiding non-essential travel now, including me.
“As a health system leader, my actions in no way reflect the tireless dedication and commitment of the staff at St. Joseph’s Health System, who continue to live the legacy of our organization every day.”
Ministry of Health has also said that Stewart is no longer on the advisory table.
A statement issued by the Ministry read: “Helen Angus, Ontario’s Deputy Minister of Health, has accepted Dr. Tom Stewart’s resignation from the Health Coordination Table, the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, and the LTC Incident Management System Table.
“The people of Ontario have made countless sacrifices during the pandemic and it remains critically important that everyone continues to follow public health advice. We all have a part to play to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
Guest said Stewart would self-isolate for 14 days, in line with the protocol for returning travelers.
It is not clear yet whether he will keep his CEO roles. The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) said the hospitals’ Boards of Directors would decide on that.
In a statement, the OHA said: “Health care leaders should follow all public health rules, including guidance regarding non-essential travel, just as we’ve asked of every other Ontarian. Simply put, it is the right thing to do.”