NEWS
01/12/2021 09:15 EST | Updated 01/12/2021 12:42 EST

Ontario Hospital CEO Fired For Trips Outside Canada During Pandemic

He travelled while a COVID-19 outbreak ravaged his London hospital.

London Health Sciences Centre
Dr. Paul Woods is seen here in an undated photo taken from the London Health Sciences Centre website. Woods travelled to the U.S. five times since March, including during the December holidays.

The CEO of a hospital network in London, Ont., was ousted from his post Monday after concerns were raised about his international travel during the pandemic. 

Dr. Paul Woods travelled to the U.S. five times since March, including during the December holidays, the London Health Sciences Centre said in a statement that announced his immediate firing. 

Woods’ travel came to light on Friday and the hospital network at that time said it supported his continued leadership.

On Monday, however, the network said it was ending Woods’ employment as president and CEO in response to hospital and community concerns about his trips.

“It has become clear that this situation has affected the confidence of staff, physicians and the community in Dr. Woods’ leadership,” it said.

The board of directors had no advance notice of Woods’ trips and didn’t approve his travel outside Canada, the hospital network said, noting that it had no process for approving the CEO’s personal travel.

On Friday, Woods apologized for his decision to visit family out of the country and said he will no longer travel while federal restrictions on non-essential trips are in place.

“What I can do is take accountability for my decision to visit with immediate family out-of-country and fully apologize. Please accept my deepest regret for my actions,” Woods said.

At the time of Woods’ most recent travel, one of the network’s sites, University Hospital, was experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak that killed 23 people and sickened more than 150 patients and staff.

Woods is one of the latest public figures whose international travel has drawn heavy criticism. 

Last week, Dr. Tom Stewart was replaced as CEO of Niagara Health and St. Joseph’s Health System after his vacation to the Dominican Republic in December came to light.

Stewart also resigned from a group of experts who provide strategic direction to the province about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rod Phillips, Ontario’s former finance minister, resigned from his post two weeks ago after it was revealed he travelled to St. Barts for a December vacation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2021.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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