Brenda Donovan proudly showed off a poster with a picture of her grandson at the rally in support of Cape Breton-based obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Manivasan Moodley Thursday night.
Moodley’s practice was given one week to close after he received a letter recently saying his sponsoring doctor was withdrawing support. Moodley, who is from India, studied medicine in South Africa and has a defined licence to practice which requires a sponsor and supervisor to work in Canada. But now it looks as though there’s been a reprieve.
An alternate sponsor came forward Friday that is acceptable to the College of Physicians and Surgeons and that allows Moodley to remain in practice.
On Thursday, the college announced they were holding a hearing on Feb. 24 in Bedford regarding allegations against Moodley made in July 2017 by two different patients. The hearing will deal with allegations of professional misconduct and/or incompetence. As reported earlier in the Cape Breton Post, these complaints included speaking in a personal or sexual nature with the patients and performing unnecessary internal exams. College officials are concerned about the allegations.
“Outrage towards women who come forward alleging sexual misconduct is exactly why sexual misconduct is under-reported,” said Dr. Gus Grant, registrar of the college. “Dr. Moodley is owed and will receive due process. At the same time, the complainants are owed privacy, safety and freedom from intimidation. Given the nature of public and social media postings, they understandably feel threatened, and see the support of Dr. Moodley as a response against them.”
Donovan carried a poster at the rally with a photo of her newborn grandson, Killian Patrick Murphy, and the phrase “Dr. Moodley saved my life."
Her daughter’s pregnancy was difficult; she had gallstones she was unaware of and when her water broke on Jan. 8, she had to be rushed for an emergency cesarean section because of a torn placenta. Baby Killian's heartbeat had “tanked," Donovan said.
"I was shaking ... That’s my child. And my grandson,” she said.
Donovan credits Moodley for saving both lives.
“According to my son-in-law, everybody was running around like ... 'what do we do?' When (Moodley came in) he took over. There was an (operating room) prepped for someone else and Moodley was like, 'no, she's going in now. The baby has to come in now.' He was wonderful.”
Donovan was one of 50 people who braved the cold wind outside the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney to attend the rally in support of Moodley. Many shared stories of how he helped them or loved ones through high-risk pregnancies, how good he is to his patients and how much skill he has in the operating room.
Sharon Tennet has been a patient of Moodley’s since being referred to him for surgery two years ago. She credits him for her quick recovery from the surgery because of his skill and knowledge.
“I’m here to support him for the incredible support that I had with him, during my time with him,” she said.
“He is empathetic and sympathetic. He tried every invasive procedure he possibly could before moving to surgery. The way he treated nurses was incredible and that put him 10 times higher in my books, the way he treated my other caregivers.”
Tennet said she left the hospital without needing pain medication, her staples were all the same distance apart and she healed before the expected time.
“Someone with his credentials behind him, Cape Breton should be ashamed of letting him go,” she said. “It's intolerable they would let this happen.”
Angela MacKenzie, Moodley’s secretary, held her sign while people chanted around her, “We stand with Moodley.”
“If you talk to his patients, they are horrified. Absolutely horrified. And you would be too if you were 35 weeks pregnant and someone tells you that your doctor isn’t going to be there,” she said.
“Dr. Moodley saves lives in the OR. A couple of weeks ago, another doctor called him to help in the OR and doctor Moodley ran in the middle of the night. He left the office in the middle of the day to help in the OR. It’s not right (what is happening).”
The rally was organized by some of Moodley’s patients. The day of the rally, the College of Physicians and Surgeons announced the hearing which lead some supporters to question the timing.
“What I don’t understand is the allegations were from 2017 and this is 2020,” said Lorelei Coombes, who was at the rally with her daughter, Cape Breton Regional Municipality Dist. 11 Coun. Kendra Coombes, who also brought her baby. “We’re two-and-a-half years in and all of a sudden this comes down now. So, in those two-and-a-half years, women were apparently in danger."
“If that is indeed the case the (Nova Scotia Health Authority) and the college were putting women in risk, unless this is a railroad job.”
Kendra Coombes is a patient of Moodley’s and he delivered her baby by emergency C-section. This wasn’t the first time Coombes has been treated by Moodley — she suffered two miscarriages and Moodley was her attending doctor. Like others she praised him for his care.
“No one here wants to intimidate the women who made allegations, but we do want fair process. We do want answers,” Kendra Coombes said.
Along with patients, there were doctors, like Paula Smith, who travelled from Truro to attend and a few hospital staff.
One hospital staff member, who has worked with Moodley for three years, spoke with the Post on the condition of anonymity because she feared reprimand for attending the rally. Although a health authority spokesperson told the Post, staff were not told they couldn’t attend, the staff member said managers did tell workers not to attend the rally.
"Nobody could tell me what that reprimand would be,” she said. “But I believe, personally, many more ob/gyn nurses would have been here tonight if they had not been scared to lose their jobs or be bullied by their managers."
She said all the nurses she knows, including herself, have the “utmost respect” for Moodley.
“I would put my body in his trust,” she said. “(What is happening) is all allegations. Everyone (in health care) have been accused of something. We don’t know what’s true (until after the hearing).”
“Dr. Moodley is by far the most experienced gynie doctor we have right now. Every one of them we have right now, put their experience together, it doesn’t add up to Moodley.”
Moodley was not at the rally and attempts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.