Inquiry hears Calgary queue-jump scheme set up to reward university donors

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CALGARY - A public inquiry in Alberta has heard that the private clinic at the centre of an alleged queue-jumping scheme was created to reward donors of the University of Calgary.

Dr. Mark Swain, the head of gastroenterology for the Calgary region, says he heard those rumours about the Helios Wellness Centre, but never followed them up.

Clerks at the publicly funded Forzani and MacPhail Calgary Colon Screening Centre have already testified that patients from Helios were moved to the head of the line at Forzani.

The inquiry has heard patients from Helios were treated within weeks or months at Forzani, while ordinary Albertans had to wait three years to be seen.

Doctors and clerks have testified rumours floated for years that the patients were being sent to the front of the queue through the University of Calgary's associate dean of clinical affairs, Dr. Ron Bridges.

Swain says no one, including himself, confronted Bridges, noting Bridges is a very influential doctor with connections to the Alberta government and the power to decide who works and who doesn't.

Bridges is expected to testify as the hearings continues.

Organizations: Forzani, University of Calgary, Helios Wellness Centre

Geographic location: Calgary, Alberta

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