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Norfolk General Hospital chief of staff travelled outside of Canada during pandemic, calls it 'regrettable'

The chief of staff of Norfolk General and West Haldimand General Hospital says it's 'regrettable' that he travelled outside of Canada during the pandemic despite government advisories.

Hospital says doctor will keep his position

Dr. Mohammad Amir Sheik-Yousouf will be staying on as chief of staff after travelling outside of Canada, says Norfolk General Hospital. (Norfolk General Hospital)

The chief of staff of Norfolk General and West Haldimand General Hospital says it's "regrettable" that he travelled outside of Canada during the pandemic despite government advisories telling people not to do so. 

Dr. Mohammad Amir Sheik-Yousouf traveled outside of the country in November and returned in December, according to a letter from Norfolk General that was posted to its Facebook page

"I have made a regrettable decision to travel outside of the country, and I am truly sorry," he said in the release. 

Director of communications Aaron Gautreau said the doctor travelled to Dubai on Nov. 30 and returned to Canada on Dec. 28. Gautreau noted his departure was prior to the provincial stay-at-home order. 

"It was not for essential travel," Gautreau said. 

It did not say his destination, exactly how long he was away, or what prompted his travels. The hospital posted the letter to Facebook on Saturday. 

Doctor followed 14-day quarantine, says CEO

Norfolk and West Haldimand General CEO and president Lucy Bonanno said in the letter it had "come to her attention" that the public knew of Dr. Sheik-Yousouf's travels. 

She said that the doctor followed all public health guidelines upon his return, advised occupational health and completed the 14-day quarantine period mandated by the federal government. 

"Dr. M. Amir Sheik-Yousouf is a prominent physician that is serving Haldimand-Norfolk. He has taken care of our most critical patients who have required urgent care since the start of the pandemic," she said. 

Norfolk General Hospital posted this letter to its Facebook page, which said that Dr. Mohammad Amir Sheik-Yousouf had travelled outside of Canada. (Norfolk General Hospital Simcoe Ontario/Facebook)

Keeping role

Dr. Sheik-Yousouf has filled the position since June 2019. The two hospitals share a management team. 

Norfolk General says it has reviewed the situation and decided he will stay on as chief of staff.

"The risk of losing a physician like Dr. M. Amir Sheik-Yousouf, who is involved in direct patient care, would be a terrible loss to our community," said Gautreau. 

The hospital said it won't be making further comment. 

The incident follows shortly after it was announced that Dr. Tom Stewart — now former CEO of Ontario's St. Joseph's Health System in Hamilton and Niagara Health — had vacationed for some time in the Dominican Republic.

He resigned from a series of health advisory boards, including a panel that advised the premier. But the board of St. Joseph's said his firing without cause has him entitled to 24 months of pay, amounting to more than $1 million.

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