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Families hunt for new physician after Barrie doc has licence suspended

As of March 17, Dr. Crystal Luchkiw had her licence suspended by College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario

The suspension of a Barrie physician's medical licence has left many people searching for a new family doctor.

As of March 17, Dr. Crystal Luchkiw had her licence suspended by the investigations, complaints and reports committee at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO).

Shae Greenfield, the CPSO's senior communications advisor, told BarrieToday that under the Regulated Health Professions Act, Section 25.4 of the legislation permits the college to issue interim orders where it has evidence to support that patients would otherwise be exposed to risk of harm or injury. 

“Although we are limited in what we can disclose at this point, additional information about the concerns related to Dr. Luchkiw’s conduct will be made available at the earliest possible opportunity,” Greenfield said.

“That may include allegations referred to the Ontario Physicians and Surgeons discipline tribunal. Members also have the opportunity to appeal interim orders to the courts, at which point the college would present information in support of its decision.” 

Dr. Luchkiw has an office at Tollendale Village on Hurst Drive in south-end Barrie.

Multiple calls to the office seeking comment on Tuesday went unanswered. 

Luchkiw appears in a September 2021 video interview with Liberty Coalition Canada, an organization which claims to educate people on human rights and constitutional freedoms, "with legal backing to defend rights and freedoms.”

In the video, Luchkiw questioned the elevated staffing levels in relation to patient numbers at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH). She also noted that reaching certain patient numbers would get the Barrie hospital increased funding. 

"There's staffing shortages in other areas of the hospital and I'm not sure why, but never in that area," she said in the interview. "Which is probably pretty concerning to anybody, because there was never very many patients in there, so it didn't require full staff at all times. But again, there is probably some kind of provincial accommodation that has to be met in order to have that funding."

According to the CPSO, on Nov. 18, 2021, RVH officials notified the college, pursuant to Section 33 of the Public Hospitals Act and Section 85.5(2) of the Health Professions Procedural Code, that Dr. Luchkiw had resigned her medical staff appointment at the local hospital on Oct. 22, 2021. This was during the course of an investigation by the hospital into allegations related to her practice and conduct and in connection with her non-compliance with hospital policies.

BarrieToday contacted RVH about Luchkiw's status. In an email response from RVH chief of staff, Dr. Jeffrey Tyberg, he said "the physician in question is no longer affiliated with RVH and we do not comment on personnel issues.

"However, RVH expects all employees and credentialed staff to act in accordance with our practices and policies to protect the safety and privacy of our patients," Tyberg added.

In mid-October 2021, RVH confirmed it had fired 14 people, placed 45 staff (23 of them nurses) and four doctors on unpaid leave over COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. RVH did not release any details about the specific individuals who were affected.  

Kim O'Hara, a former patient of Luchkiw’s, told BarrieToday that office staff called her husband Monday to cancel his upcoming appointment. 

“It's stressful as he needs a doctor for his diabetes and meds for it. It's unrealistic to have people clogging up walk-in clinics for requisitions for blood work and prescriptions, not to mention having to time off work to sit and wait,” O’Hara said.

The mother of three told BarrieToday she had only met Luchkiw once and that “she made an off-hand remark about the vaccinations, but I didn't say anything because I was a little shocked and she dropped it.”

Luckhiw’s licence is suspended indefinitely, but has not been revoked. She can file an appeal, at which time the CPSO’s findings and evidence for the suspension can be revealed, Greenfield said. 

While Luchkiw has had her licence suspended and “she can’t treat patients, can’t diagnose patients as a doctor,” Greenfield said she can refer to herself as doctor since it's an academic distinction.