A Newfoundland and Labrador man has been charged with practising without a medical licence after a woman reported him to police, saying he asked her inappropriate questions about her son's penis and suggested he could perform circumcisions at his rural home.
'It's a scary thought to think this is going on in a cabin in the woods.' - Mother
Carbonear resident Josh Chubbs, 23, was charged on Feb. 20 under the Medical Act after a mother — whom CBC News has agreed not to identify — called police to report that he had written to her last December, after she made a routine post on Facebook that mentioned her children.
The mother, who lives in the Conception Bay North area, said Chubbs wrote to her to inquire whether her son, who is under 10, was having any issues with his genitals, such as infections that might require a medical procedure like a circumcision or a frenulectomy, which involves the removal of tissue around the head of the penis.
"To say the conversation took a strange turn is a bit of an understatement," she told CBC News.
A 'cabin in the woods'
Circumcision is often performed a few days after birth before discharge from hospital or at specialized outpatient clinics. However, because it's considered cosmetic, the surgery cost of $300 to $500 isn't covered by provincial insurance plans.
The mother described Chubbs as an acquaintance and said she knew he had worked at Noel's Funeral Home in Carbonear in 2015. She said he explained to her that he also had training in pediatric urology and could do surgical operations like circumcisions.
According to Facebook messages seen by CBC News, Chubbs asked if her son had been circumcised, how he cleaned his penis and several other questions that she felt were inappropriate.
"He said, 'I don't want you to think I was a creep, I am trained,'" she said.
After pressing Chubbs further, she said he went on to explain how he never finished his urology training because he fell into the funeral business.
He told her he had training in pediatric urology and had "dealt with lots of boys who have had issues."
"I did finish my course, got all my papers, it's not illegal, I am trained," he told her, and added: "I just don't work for the hospital, which is why I don't broadcast, but it's legal."
In the messages, he claimed he had performed circumcisions for his adult friends on the side and that he had all his papers. He added he could do the procedure right in his home — which she described as little more than a cabin in the woods near the town of Freshwater.
"At this point I had Googled the length of time it takes to become a pediatric urologist, and he hasn't even been out of high school that long," she said. "So I knew then that this was something that needed to be brought to a higher power's attention."
The woman noted that the messages she received from Chubbs were difficult to read because of numerous spelling errors.
According to the woman, Chubbs claimed to have completed more than 50 procedures already, and even referred her to a mutual adult friend who had a frenulectomy operation successfully done by him. The friend confirmed it, and went on to say Chubbs seemed professional and that there were no complications from the work.
The mom said hearing that Chubbs had operated on an adult was disturbing enough, but for him to approach her about doing unlicensed surgery on her child was what finally drove her to contact the police.
"I was absolutely horrified," she said.
"It red-flagged a lot of stuff for me, because God forbid there would actually be somebody too embarrassed to take their child to a doctor who would take them to a friend who was clearly not certified to do these things."
Not a urologist, nor a mortician
Too nervous to call the RCMP's Harbour Grace detachment to explain what Chubbs had said, she asked a friend to do so. She said at first, police didn't take her friend seriously and hung up, but when her friend called back a second time they finally listened and eventually charges were laid.
Not only was Chubbs allegedly offering to perform medical procedures without proper credentials, but he also had not finished his apprenticeship to be a mortician.
The RCMP are not commenting on their investigation.
The mother said she went to the media to make sure others don't consider getting their child treated by someone without proper medical credentials.
"It's important for people to know that without the proper credentials, things could go wrong," the woman said.
"It's a scary thought to think this is going on in a cabin in the woods."
Chubbs is scheduled to appear in Harbour Grace provincial court on April 12.
He's charged with engaging in medical practice while not licensed under the Medical Act from June 1 to Oct. 15, 2016. He is also being charged by promoting those services to people between Dec. 1 and 16, 2016.