The Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Inquest Report




From 1990 onwards, a number of other hospitals had tried unsuccessfully to recruit Duncan. For his part, Collins had hoped that Duncan would take over from him as director of the program. However, by 1993 it was apparent that the program was in for major personnel changes.

By the summer of 1992 Dr. Brian McCrindle had left the Heart Centre. Due to a hiring freeze at the HSC, he was not replaced. When McCrindle had been hired, the other cardiologists at the Variety Children's Heart Centre had agreed to forgo income that would otherwise have been available to them, in order to pay his salary. With McCrindle's departure, the centre was left with three cardiologists to do the work that four had previously performed. The money that they had forgone in order to hire McCrindle was lost to them with the freeze. Matters, moreover, were to get worse.

In the spring of 1993, Dr. Andrew Pelech announced his intention to leave the Heart Centre and accept a medical position in Milwaukee. His resignation took effect in the fall of 1993.

In April 1993, Collins gave notice to pediatrics head Dr. Agnes Bishop of his intention to leave at the end of six months (Exhibit 291). Collins intended to leave Canada for a position as head of pediatrics at the King Fahad National Guard Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He testified that he had always planned to leave Winnipeg for other opportunities after ten years, and 1993 marked his tenth year in Winnipeg.

However, Collins's letter explaining his resignation (Exhibit 292) also spoke of his frustrations as medical director of the VCHC and with the manner in which the hospital and the Government of Manitoba were addressing issues related to pediatric cardiac surgery in the province.

In his letter of resignation, Collins questioned the commitment of both the HSC and the Government to provide the program with sufficient support for it to achieve its objectives. He also questioned the HSC's commitment to developing the program into the full level of service that he had always wanted. Collins's last day at the VCHC was October 31, 1993.

He was not alone in his frustration. By the end of April of 1993, Duncan had also decided to leave. He had discussed his decision privately with Collins on more than one occasion, and had also discussed his inclination to leave with some of his colleagues, including Unruh. He had turned down approaches from hospitals in London and Ottawa, but by April was being recruited by a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska.

Duncan and others testified that when he was being considered for the position that he ultimately accepted in Omaha, those who were recruiting him came to Winnipeg in order to watch and videotape him while he was actually performing a surgical procedure. The videotape was made to help the staff who were going to work with him observe and learn about him and his surgical technique.

The chief of surgery from Omaha also came to Winnipeg to observe Duncan performing surgery. According to Duncan, the chief surgeon later told him that, among other things, he wanted to observe Duncan's relationship with others in the operating room.

On May 10, 1993, Duncan gave Collins written notice of his intention to depart. He said that he would not accept any new patients after June 1993, and would stay until the end of July to finish those cases in which he was involved. That June, Duncan performed the final procedures for which he was responsible, and shortly thereafter departed for his new position in Omaha.

By November 1993, therefore, McCrindle, Pelech, Duncan and Collins were all gone. This meant that there was no surgeon and that Giddins was the only pediatric cardiologist on staff. On Collins's recommendation, Giddins was appointed the acting medical director of the Variety Children's Heart Centre. The cardiac surgery program that Collins had worked so hard to build had been virtually decimated by the end of 1993.



Current Home - Table of Contents - Chapter 5 - Departures
Next Replacing Duncan
Previous Issues for the Variety Heart Centre
Section 1 Chapter 1 - Introduction to the Issues
  Chapter 2 - Pediatric Cardiac Issues
  Chapter 3 - The Diagnosis of Pediatric Heart Defects and their Surgical Treatment
  Chapter 4 - The Health Sciences Centre
Section 2 Chapter 5 - Pediatric Cardiac Surgery in Winnipeg 1950-1993
  Chapter 6 - The Restart of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery in 1994
January 1, 1994 to May 17, 1994
  Chapter 7 - The Slowdown
May 17 to September 1994
  Chapter 8 - Events Leading to the Suspension of the Program
September 7, 1994 to December 23, 1994
  Chapter 9 - 1995 - The Aftermath of the Shutdown
January to March, 1995
Section 3 Chapter 10 - Findings and Recommendations
Appendix 1 - Glossary of terms used in this report
Appendix 2 - Parties to the Proceedings and counsel
Appendix 3 - List of witnesses and dates of testimony
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