Ex-Kamloops eye surgeon sues Interior Health after surgeries moved to Kelowna | infonews



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22 July 2022 – 12:06

A Kelowna ophthalmologist is suing Interior Health after he moved his eye surgery from Kamloops to Kelowna and then refused to rehire him.

According to a Notice of Claim filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia on July 15, Dr. Malvinder Hoonjan had performed eye surgery at Kamloops Royal Inland Hospital for nearly a decade when in 2019 Interior Health told him that the eye surgery was going to be transferred to Kelowna.

Prior to 2019, inpatient retinal surgery services were provided exclusively at Kamloops Hospital.

In 2019, Interior Health wrote to Dr. Hoonjan telling him about an “exciting development” and that retinal surgery would be moving to Kelowna General Hospital.

“With this transition, we hope to provide comprehensive care to all interior health residences requiring retinal surgeon surgery,” the letter reads.

Court documents say Dr. Hoonjan understood from the letter that he would continue to practice eye surgery in Kelowna.

However, Interior Health asked Dr. Hoonjan to reapply for a position in the Department of Ophthalmology at Kelowna General and declined his application.

Interior Health then hired two ophthalmologists, one a former colleague of Dr. Hoonjan and the other a recent graduate.

“The decision not to offer Dr. Hoonjan a position at Kelowna General Hospital was procedurally flawed, as the Interior Health Authority did not comply with its own policies in making the decision to refuse hospital privileges (to Dr. Hoonjan),” the notice of claim reads.

Dr. Hoonjan goes on to say that Interior Health’s decision not to offer him a position in Kelowna was “arbitrary” and did not comply with its anti-racism and diversity policy.

The court document says Dr. Hoonjan is a Canadian of South Asian descent, specifically Punjabi and a Sikh who is fluent in English, Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu.

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The eye surgeon accuses Interior Health of violating its own regulations which state that it will give staff 12 months notice if a program or facility closure prevents them from practicing.

It appears from court documents that Interior Health only gave Dr. Hoonjan four months’ notice that eye surgery would be moving to Kelowna.

The documents say Dr. Hoonjan appealed Interior Health’s decision not to allow him to practice through the hospital’s appeal board and a hearing was held in November 2021.

Dr. Hoonjan is still awaiting a decision.

The eye surgeon seeks damages for breach of contract and breach of good faith, but no amount is given.

Interior Health has not yet responded to the court filing.

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