Thursday, October 9, 2008


The Midland Press reports that former chief coroner Dr. James Young is stepping down as chair of a hospital nomination committee on the heels of the Goudge report which was critical of his actions with respect to Dr. Charles Smith;

"Dr. James Young has resigned as chair of the community-based nominating committee chosen last month to recommend candidates for appointment to the board of the hospital created by the integration of Penetanguishene General Hospital with Huronia District Hospital," the October 8,report by Douglas Glynn begins.

"Dr. Alan Stewart, acting chief executive officer of Huronia District Hospital, said yesterday that a replacement chair will be sought," it continues.

""We will be seeking someone with a good understanding of the issues and the importance of the board selection process; someone able to commit to that process," said Dr. Stewart.

Young's resignation came just days after the report of the Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology in Ontario in which Justice Stephen Goudge, inquiry commissioner, strongly criticized the former Ontario chief coroner and his then-deputy, Dr. James Cairns.

The inquiry was called after experts determined pediatric pathologist Dr. Charles Smith had made significant errors in at least 20 cases of child death. As a result, 12 people were wrongly convicted of crimes and went to jail, while eight others were wrongly accused.

In its criticism of Drs. Young and Cairns, Justice Goudge's report suggests they had been lax in their oversight of Dr. Charles Smith.

"For over a decade, while the danger signals about Dr. Smith kept coming up, those in charge at OCCO (Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario) who ultimately might have done something about this mounting problem did far too little," the judge wrote.

"As the end neared," Judge Goudge wrote, "Dr. Young was more concerned with the possibility of the adverse publicity that Dr. Smith might bring to to the OCCO than about the possible impact of Dr. Smith's shortcomings on the OCCO's responsibility for high-quality death investigations."

In another development, Kathryn Clarke, a College of Physicians and Surgeons spokesperson, confirmed Monday that Drs. Young and Cairns are under investigation by the college. She pointed out, however, that the investigation is merely at the information gathering stage.

"Nothing has been proven," she emphasized.

Young was appointed last month to head the nominating committee that will recommend to Dr. Kevin Smith, the government-appointed HDH supervisor, a list of candidates for the new hospital board. The Free Press has learned there are 25 candidates for the nine board positions.

Young's resignation comes on the eve a rally by the Citizens for HDH and the Southern Georgian Bay Health Coalition at 7 p. m. Thursday at the North Simcoe Sports and Recreation Centre to generate support for an elected board.

Elizabeth O'Connor, a member of the community-based nominating committee and a leader of Citizens for HDH, said the meeting's agenda will include "a discussion of the elimination of 2,400 memberships in the HDH corporation."

She is a leading advocate for an elected board, rather than the appointed model proposed by the government-appointed supervisor.

Asked whether she was comfortable being a member of the nominating committee selecting candidates for the appointed board while campaigning for an elected board, she replied: "I don't see it as a conflict. I made my position clear to the committee. I put my cards on the table. I said, you know I'm still in favour of an elected board and will be working towards that'.""