The man charged with overseeing the investigation into patient deaths at Ontario’s provincially funded air ambulance service was named its new CEO yesterday. Ontario coroner Andrew McCallum, M.D., a certified private pilot, former Canadian Forces flight surgeon and emergency medicine specialist, will take over the troubled air ambulance service in January.
Ornge has been the focus of several ongoing, high-profile official investigations following revelations of questionable financial dealings related to aircraft acquisitions, nepotism, inflated executive compensation, real estate transactions, and poor operational performance, including patient deaths. Earlier this year Ornge’s board and top executives resigned or were replaced by Ontario’s Ministry of Health, and new management implemented numerous reforms.
In August, Coroner McCallum ordered a new review of Ornge patient deaths by an expert panel after a previous report found that none of them “appeared to have been materially affected” by Ornge performance issues. The new report is examining patient deaths between 2006 and 2012 and findings were due this fall. However, late last month McCallum’s office announced that it “is taking longer than expected” and would not commit to a release date. Ontario Conservative Party MPP Frank Klees, the politician who has spearheaded the Ornge inquiry, is now focusing his investigative glare on what he refers to as the “blatant conflict” of the appointment and “the integrity of the search process that led to the appointment.”