New Brunswick

Dumont hospital employees shocked Dr. Fernando Rojas returning to work

Many staff members at the Georges Dumont Hospital in Moncton do not welcome Dr. Fernando Rojas' return to work. The radiation oncologist looked at 141 female patient medical records without authorization.

The radiation oncologist admitted to accessing medical files of 141 female patients

Dr. Fernando Rojas was placed on leave for 18 months after news of the privacy breach came out. He was reinstated in December 2015 following a board meeting, and in June, the board changed its mind and decided to terminate Rojas. (CBC)

Many staff members at the Georges Dumont Hospital in Moncton do not welcome Dr. Fernando Rojas' return to work.

Rojas has not been working at the Georges Dumont since March 2014.

The radiation oncologist looked at 141 female patient medical records without authorization from two computers at the hospital between September 2010 to January 2013.​

During an investigation by the province's privacy commissioner, he admitted to accessing  the files out of personal interest and to find out the age of the women.

Dr. Rojas admitted to accessing health records from hospital computers without approval. (CBC)
Rojas looked at the records of women aged 13-39 who work or worked at the hospital, and some women he met outside of work, including servers at restaurants he frequented.

The Vitalité Health Network has recently decided to allow Rojas to go back to work at the hospital, though it has not said when. 

Some staff 'surprised and angry'

CBC News has learned that a petition is circulating in the oncology department objecting to Rojas' return.

Several of the affected women who work at the hospital told CBC they are shocked that Rojas has been rehired.

One woman who does not want to be identified said having to work with him again will be "uncomfortable and weird."

She said people at the hospital first heard of Rojas' return through the news rather than directly from Vitalité.

She said while most are surprised and angry, some people have told her Rojas is human and that he deserves a second chance.

Another hospital employee who had her files accessed by Rojas told CBC seeing him around the hospital will be "awkward."

She said if he is going to return, maybe Vitalité  can place him in a different hospital, one where he has not accessed his co-workers' medical records.

Hospital not commenting

When asked repeatedly for a comment, Vitalite Health Network would not confirm or give details about its decision regarding the oncologist's return to the hospital.

In an email, Luc Foulem, the spokesperson for Vitalité, wrote, "That question delves into Human Resources matters. We cannot comment on that aspect."

New Brunswick's Privacy Commissioner, Anne Bertrand released a 55-page report in July of 2014.

In the report she recommended "more frequent and regular random audits of accesses to Meditech patient databases..."

Dr. Rojas has not worked as a radiation oncologist since March of 2014. (CBC)
Now that Rojas will return to work, the privacy commissioner's office has confirmed that Vitalité will follow another recommendation, as Rojas' access to medical records will be restricted and monitored for 24 months.

College reviewing two complaints

The province's College of Physicians and Surgeons is reviewing two complaints against Rojas.

Dr. Ed Schollenberg, the College's Registrar told Radio-Canada Rojas and his lawyer have provided the College with information, but that Vitalité has not provided any. 

Foulem has said the reason the health network hasn't given information to the College of Physicians and Surgeons is simply because it was never asked to do so.

Schollenberg said this privacy breach is an "extreme case," but he also said once somebody is deemed no longer to be a danger, there may be no real reason to prevent them from working. 

Still, one of the women whose files were accessed, and who works at the same hospital, wonders whether the only reason Rojas is being treated with leniency is because he's a doctor.