New Brunswick

Moncton woman shocked with 'bad joke' response after filing complaint against doctor

A Moncton woman believes she wasn't taken seriously when she recently tried to file a complaint against her doctor.

College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick has apologized for remarks

Jessica Richardson says she was shocked by the response when she filed a complaint against her doctor. (Submitted by Jessica Richardson)

A Moncton woman thinks she wasn't taken seriously when she recently tried to file a complaint against her doctor.  

Jessica Richardson left her career as a correctional officer after developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

She developed concerns in recent weeks about how her psychiatrist was treating her, specifically when it came to her medications.

After discussing it with friends and family, she decided to file a complaint to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick. 

She was shocked by the reply to her email from the registrar Ed Schollenberg. 

Complaint response

He wrote, in part: "Patients often are unhappy with their psychiatrists. Probably because they are unhappy about everything I guess.

"Just get in his face politely. And get back to me if there remains a problem."

Richardson said the response made her cry.

"It was almost like: 'Wow, I don't matter.'" 

In the emails provided to CBC News, Richardson wrote back calling the response "unprofessional."

Mental health should be taken seriously

 Schollenberg replied by apologizing and called it a "weak attempt at humour." 

"Email does not allow one to reflect "tone" very easily,." Schollenberg assured Richardson her case would be "taken with appropriate seriousness." 

Richardson responded: "Nothing is funny about the fact that people with mental health issues are being laughed at by 'professionals' when we are asking for help." 

Richardson said having her mental health concerns reduced to a "bad joke" left her feeling upset, unheard and alone. 

"To go up higher and try and talk to somebody about what happened, and they say that I'm probably just unhappy because I had mental health issues to begin with — that is a literal slap to the face."

CBC News requested an interview with Schollenberg. He responded in an email that he didn't believe he could comment on "any active matter."

Ed Schollenberg, registrar at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick, has apologized for a "weak attempt at humour" when replying to a complaint about Jessica Richardson's doctor. (Submitted by Jessica Richardson)

Richardson believes there are developments around her complaint since the apology and there could be a meeting with the college later this week.

She doubts that would have happened if she hadn't shared the email exchange on social media. She said many people have messaged her sharing similar stories of their mental health issues being brushed off or ignored.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shane Fowler

Reporter

Shane Fowler has been a CBC journalist based in Fredericton since 2013.

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