Changes needed to end ‘unconscious bias’ in hiring at Ontario’s Southlake Regional Health Centre, review says
2019-06-12 from theglobeandmail.com
An independent review of a hospital emergency department in Newmarket, Ont., is recommending changes to prevent “unconscious bias” from affecting hiring decisions.
The review was ordered after a Globe and Mail investigation into allegations of gender discrimination by Marko Duic, chief of the emergency department at Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket.
The Globe began looking into Dr. Duic last spring, after lawyer Danny Kastner sent a complaint to Southlake on behalf of eight female physicians who alleged gender discrimination in Dr. Duic’s hiring and training practices. The allegations spanned 16 years, and involved his time as chief of emergency at St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto, and later at Southlake.
The Globe spoke to 26 physicians who worked with Dr. Duic or were aware of concerns about his leadership, including discriminatory comments he allegedly made about or to women. The Globe found that Dr. Duic hired no female physicians and, at a minimum, 23 male physicians in those 16 years.
Dr. Duic has declined to comment. He stepped down as chief in January, but Southlake chief executive Arden Krystal confirmed in an interview that he still works in the department as a physician.
Ms. Krystal said the law firm Rubin Thomlinson interviewed about 30 people for its independent review, almost all of whom work in the department.
While it was announced last year as an “independent investigation,” the Rubin Thomlinson report uses the term “assessment.” Ms. Krystal said it was meant to highlight “overall themes of the kinds of workplace issues with physicians and nurses and others in the department … not just whether one person was a contributing factor.” However, she added that Rubin Thomlinson committed to informing the hospital of “particularly troublesome allegations and firsthand allegations” about any individuals in the emergency department.
The assessment did not bring to light concerns about any individual, including Dr. Duic, according to Ms. Krystal. “There were no allegations that were personal in nature. There were a lot of third-hand comments or ‘I heard’ kind of comments,” she told The Globe.
However, Ms. Krystal said the review found “concerns about the processes that were in place that the former chief [Dr. Duic] was engaged with around the selection of individuals for locum positions and selection for staff positions.”
In its recommendations, which have been published on Southlake’s website, Rubin Thomlinson noted that hiring policies overseen by the chief left open the “possibility for unconscious bias.”
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