Jack Kitts, Ottawa Hospital president, says he won't step down amid contracts scandal

The Ottawa Hospital's president says that while he was "shattered" by allegations that two of the hospital's former directors conspired with contractors to defraud the hospital under his watch, he is not stepping down.

'Because of this kick in the gut, I am resolved to never, ever, ever let this happen again': Dr. Jack Kitts

Dr. Jack Kitts, president of the Ottawa Hospital, discussed fraud allegations with Ottawa Morning host Robyn Bresnahan on Monday. 2:47

The Ottawa Hospital's president says he decided not to step down despite allegations of collusion between contractors and former hospital staff under his watch.

In January, the hospital accused two longtime former directors — who were in charge of large budgets and projects — of conspiring with contractors to defraud the hospital in exchange for luxury vacations, family favours, and deep personal discounts.

It came two months after DRS Construction filed its own lawsuit against the hospital, accusing the hospital of refusing to pay invoices for completed work and breaking contracts that could have otherwise been filled by other work opportunities.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

'Public confidence may be eroded'

Dr. Jack Kitts told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning Monday the incident has "shattered" him, and that he thinks about its effect on how people perceive the hospital.

"I do worry about the fact that the public confidence may be eroded, and that the opportunity to keep Ottawa on the leading edge of health care could be compromised," Kitts told Robyn Bresnahan, referring to the future replacement of the Civic campus.

"However, I want to say that because of this kick in the gut, I am resolved to never, ever, ever let this happen again, and we are taking significant steps."

Those steps, he said, have included a review and tightening of internal controls as well as third-party management of large projects.

'Lost a lot of sleep'

"I want to state that on my watch, I will do everything in my power never to [let this] happen again, and that the hospital today is much better than it has been. And I will commit to not allowing that to happen again," Kitts said.

Kitts told Bresnahan that while he does feel "a responsibility" over the issue, he decided to stay on as president to oversee the hospital's renewal.

"Well I've lost a lot of sleep over it, and I've considered that we have built a hospital that people of the nation's capital know when they come into our doors that they're receiving world-class care, care that's second to none anywhere.

"... And of course we are public stewards of the public funds, and again, I am very disappointed and [regretful], but I think I will continue to try and set the stage for the best health care for the citizens of Ottawa in the 21st century."