Cutting Dr. Tom Stewart Loose Follows in Wake of Rebukes from Hospital Workers, from Public, and even suggestions from Ontario Premier Doug Ford that he Should Go
A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted January 7th, 2021 on Niagara At Large
Niagara Health’s CEO Dr. Tom Stewart was recently caught with his beach trunks on – on a Holiday Season vacation in the Caribbean while other brave and dedicated doctors, nurses and care workers were back here at home in our region, risking their health at our hospitals to treat members of our communities during this killer pandemic.
So Niagara Health’s board of directors really had no choice.
In a statement the board released shortly after 9 p.m. this Wednesday, January 6th, it oh-so-gingerly announced that it is cutting its contractual ties with Dr. Stewart and with the managerial services of the neighbouring St. Joseph’s Hospital System in Hamilton.
Yet this move to cut ties with this CEO – arrogant enough to do a vacation in southern climes while the rest of us were being told to stay home and sacrifice get-togethers with members with friends and beloved members of our family – only came after associations and unions supporting hospital workers expressed anger upon hearing of this elitist’s conduct, and after it made news across Ontario and the rest of the country.
Only two days ago, Niagara Health issued a news release in response to this disgrace that began like this –
“Niagara Health CEO Dr. Tom Stewart was on approved vacation from Dec. 18 – Jan 5. During that time he travelled to the Dominican Republic.
We recognize and value the efforts of all our staff and physicians who have been working tirelessly and with great dedication. We encourage and support them in taking vacation time while following public health advice.
“I regret this non-essential travel and I’m sorry,” said Stewart. “Everyone should be avoiding non-essential travel now, including me.” … and that release droned on – blah, blah, blah.
Then late this January 6th came the new release from Niagara Health – one of countless thousands that this journalist, for more than 41 years now, has been a recipient of – that read as if were heavily worked over by wordsmiths and lawyers, ultimately letting us know, without referring to Dr. Stewart by name, except to thank him “for his valuable service,” that it was breaking its contractual ties.
“The Board of Directors of Niagara Health has decided to end the purchase of CEO services within the agreement effective immediately,” said the Board in the fourth of five paragraphs in the release. “The Board of Directors of Niagara Health would like to thank Dr. Tom Stewart for his valuable service to our system and the people of Niagara.”
In the first three graphs, the news release, in what I felt was a weak and cowardly way, seemed to hide behind its dedicated health care staff by praising their commitment.
I respond to this by saying that the dedication of our health care workers in the hospitals across our region was never the issue.
The issue was why did it take Niagara Health’s board a day or two of negative media coverage and expressions of anger flooding in from the Ontario Nurse’s Association, from other hospital staff unions, and even from the Ontario Premier, saying the board has a “tough” decision to face, before it let this Caribbean vacationer go?
Here is the late-in-the-day, what I would call terribly lame, news release from Ontario Health, referred to above –
News Release from Niagara Health – Wednesday, January 6, 2021
Statement from the Niagara Health Board of Directors
Niagara Health is committed to providing our patients, their families and the community with the best healthcare experience, and continually pushes to raise the bar in teaching and learning, research and innovation.
Our staff and physicians have earned the deepest respect of our community for their hard work and dedication during the pandemic. The Niagara Health Board of Directors are very proud of their extraordinary efforts.
For the last six years, Niagara Health has had a contractual agreement with St. Joseph’s Health System. Among other collaboration initiatives such as joint programs and services, the agreement provided for Niagara Health to purchase CEO services from St. Joseph’s Health System such that the organizations shared a joint CEO.
The Board of Directors of Niagara Health have decided to end the purchase of CEO services within the agreement effective immediately.
The Board of Directors of Niagara Health would like to thank Dr. Tom Stewart for his valuable service to our system and the people of Niagara.
The Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Lynn Guerriero, current President of Niagara Health, will become President and Interim CEO.
Caroline Bourque Wiley, MCM, APR, Chief Communications Officer
A Footnote from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large –
Correct me if I am wrong but I think most people across Niagara already know that we have dedicated staff working in our hospitals.
What does Dr. Stewart’s arrogant conduct, of late, have to do with that?
We don’t need the board of Niagara Health, and its communications flaks using our front-line heroes as a shield or as cover in some way before getting to the point and announcing, in lame way it did , that it is terminating the services with a top administrator who has betrayed the trust of the public and the many good people working under him.
Let alone, thank him for his “valuable service,” which may speak to the arrogance of the board itself.
What a slap in the face to the rest of us – who are making the necessary sacrifices, and who are paying the freight for this hospital system, that is!
Perhaps what we also need is a new Niagara Health board.
Doug Draper, Niagara At Large
To read another recent commentary, posted on Niagara At Large, on this issue, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2021/01/06/niagara-health-ceo-sorry-he-vacationed-in-southern-climes-while-rest-of-us-told-to-sacrifice-during-dovid-lockdownadd-new-post/
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