London, Ont., hospital CEO fired after five trips to U.S. during pandemic

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London, Ont., hospital CEO fired after five trips to U.S. during pandemic
London, Ont., hospital CEO fired after five trips to U.S. during pandemic

The signatures kept flooding in on a petition calling for Dr. Paul Woods’ resignation and now London Health Sciences Centre has decided to terminate his employment as president and CEO.

“No doubt losing two senior leaders has the potential of being problematic, however I am confident, 100 per cent confident in the senior leadership and most importantly our front lines, we will continue to be laser focused on responding to the pandemic in our community and will continue to provide excellent care,” said Dr. Adam Dukelow Chief Medical Officer.

“That is our number one goal which includes containing outbreaks and delivering vaccine as well as getting as much activity done that isn’t related to COVID. Is it challenging yes, but are we able to respond absolutely I’m confident we will make it through this,” he added.

The news comes following revelations that Woods travelled to the U.S. several times during the pandemic, most recently around Christmas.

As of Sunday evening, there were more than 4,000 signatures, and by Monday morning that number had already grown well above 6,000 and was tracking towards 7,000.

It was Friday that London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) confirmed that Woods, who is a Canadian citizen but holds a green card in the U.S., has travelled there five times since March 2020, including from Dec. 19-25, 2020, just before the provincial lockdown took effect.

At the time the board at LHSC said they were aware of his trips and supported his continued leadership at the hospital. The board stood by that position all weekend but Monday morning announced his removal.

“Effective immediately, the Board of Directors of London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) has decided to end Dr. Paul Woods’ employment as LHSC’s President and Chief Executive Officer,” read a statement issued by LHSC monday morning.

“While the Board was aware of Dr. Woods’ personal circumstances, it had no advance notice of and did not approve his travel outside Canada. There is no process for the Board of a public hospital to approve a chief execute officer’s personal travel.”

The statement goes on to say that no other board members have travelled outside of Canada since the pandemic.

Beyond a letter to staff at LHSC Dr. Woods has yet to speak publicly regarding the controversy.

The hospital says that an interim President and CEO will be announced in the coming days.

The statement concludes with the declaration that LHSC will not be commenting further at this time.

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