Health PEI hires QEH medical director with controversial views
Dr. Hussam Azzam says he was fired from previous job for tweets criticizing Israeli government
The new medical director at Queen Elizabeth Hospital started work this week after leaving Western Canada, where he said his political views cost him his job.
Dr. Hussam Azzam began job duties Monday at QEH, where he will oversee all medical issues at the province's largest hospital, and will continue to practice obstetrics and gynecology.
In January, Azzam posted online that he had been fired from his job at St. Boniface General Hospital in Winnipeg for criticizing the Israeli government.
Several of his posts on Twitter in 2014 supported boycotts of Israel and suggested the Israeli government engaged in terrorism.
Those tweets are no longer online.
Fills job vacant for 7 months
Azzam had served as chief medical officer at St. Boniface since last November.
"This is a very personal issue between me and my previous employer," said Azzam.
"Most of my, if not all of my social media activities now is focused on leadership and management and medically related topics and I think that's what I'm going to focus my energy and attention moving forward."
The St. Boniface General Hospital declined to comment on the reason for his departure, citing personnel matters.
Azzam comes to P.E.I. with nearly two decades of experience, practicing medicine in Canada and overseas.
The job he's filling had been vacant for seven months.
His appointment at QEH follows extensive recruitment efforts by the province, with input from the P.E.I. College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Health PEI says Azzam hired for competencies at practicing medicine
Officials at Health PEI told CBC News that the issue of Dr. Azzam's social media posts were known to them before he was hired.
"We'll now have that leadership point person that will be able to direct health care, to deal with any issues that come up within the system … and that will only be a help to us as we move forward," said Robert Henderson, minister of health and wellness.
"I'm not so concerned about their points of view or opinions or political ideologies as much as their competencies at practicing medicine in the province."
Employment also terminated in May 2016
Prior to working at St. Boniface Hospital, Azzam served as chief medical officer for Northern Regional Health Authority in Manitoba, from August 2008 to May 2016.
According to a civil suit filed last October in Manitoba, Azzam is suing the health authority claiming he is owed more severance pay following his termination of employment by the authority.
It declined to comment on the matter. Azzam also declined to discuss the case.
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