Outside Charles Duncan's medical practice, in Fonthill. VOICE PHOTO

Fonthill physician’s staff telling patients that replacement is coming


The who, when, and possibly where are far from clear, but it’s possible that Charles Duncan won’t be leaving his patients high and dry after all, come Oct. 31, when the longtime Fonthill family doctor will cease practicing.

His sudden departure was revealed in late August, when the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) announced that Duncan had agreed to resign, and never attempt to register for a medical license again in Canada, in the face of investigations into professional misconduct or incompetence.

Following publication of the initial story, which included details of sexual assaults allegedly committed by Duncan against a former female employee, ten more women came forward to the Voice with various allegations of misconduct they asserted occurred from the 1970s forward.

Duncan sent a letter to his patients in September, announcing the closure of his practice as of the end of October. The letter included information as to how patients might access their medical records from a third-party storage facility. In the letter, Duncan specifically stated that he would not supply patients with their records directly, instead requiring them to use the third-party service.

Last week, patients contacting that service—Record Storage and Retrieval Services Inc. (RSRS), in Toronto—got a surprise. They were told that their records would not, in fact, be made available, because RSRS had been informed by Duncan’s office that a new doctor was set to take over his practice.

What RSRS didn’t have were details. Neither did Duncan’s receptionist last Friday afternoon, when asked by freelance reporter John Chick whether it was true that a new doctor was coming in.

This was accurate “to the best of my knowledge,” said the receptionist, who added that she did not know the doctor’s name, or when he or she would arrive.

Duncan patient Sue Aubin contacted the paper to report being told by a Duncan staff member about the new doctor, and praised Duncan’s care.

“I believe that his alleged behaviour over 10 years ago, and a recent unknown complaint,” wrote Aubin, “does not wipe out the 35 years of dedicated service I received from my family doctor.”

RSRS president Elan Eisen remains in the dark.

“We got a one-line email stating that they had found somebody, which is always a good thing for the patients,” said Eisen. “Nevertheless, they sent notification out to the patients before that, so we’re continually getting phone calls from patients who want their medical records.”

One frustrated Duncan patient told the Voice that RSRS informed him, two weeks ago, that not only was there a fee to obtain his records, but that the company was the sole keeper of the information. Any new doctor, or a hospital, would also have to request his records through RSRS.

Eisen says that the firm is waiting for “further instruction” from Duncan’s office, instruction that had not been received by late Friday. Until it arrives, the company will not release patients’ records to anyone.

“We’ll take their phone number in the event they don’t find out any further information from the doctor’s office,” said Eisen. “As soon as we know what’s going on, we’ll get back and instruct them accordingly.”