RESERVE MINES, N.S. —
A Reserve Mines mother is wondering why her complaints about Dr. Errol Gaum to a Sydney dental clinic didn’t stop them from referring patients to the Bedford-based dentist.
Wendy McNeil said she was “sick” when she read Ryan Binder’s post about the appointment his six-year-old daughter had with Gaum on Nov. 10, which lead to him filing a complaint with the Nova Scotia dental board.
“I could have written that, it was so much like what my daughter when through (six-years ago),” said McNeil.
The McNeils’ daughter was also six at the time of the visit and McNeil said her husband wanted to hire a lawyer when they returned to Cape Breton. McNeil convinced him not to and called Mayflower Dental, who made the referral to Gaum, to file a complaint.
It wasn’t until she read Binder’s post and saw his daughter was also referred by Mayflower Dental she realized Gaum was still treating children.
On Thursday, the Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia suspended Gaum’s licence indefinitely after an emergency meeting the night before. Halifax Regional Police have also confirmed they are investigating multiple complaints filed against a dentist at the address where Gaum’s office is.
McNeil was shocked when she realized her complaint to Mayflower Dental in 2014 didn’t result in changes.
“I figured (by calling and reporting it) the referrals would stop at least,” she said. “Stupid me, on my behalf.”
Mayflower Dental regional director Rob Redshaw said the Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia deals with complaints and is the organization they should be submitted to.
Citing privacy, Redshaw said he couldn’t speak more about complaints or referrals.
“With respect to client privilege and patient privilege, as well as with our dentists and the dentists we refer to, we can’t discuss in any way, shape or form … any of the processes when it comes to referrals (or receiving complaints about referred dentists),” Redshaw said.
“The dentist does not get involved with (the complaint) process at all. Getting the information from anyone but the source (when the complaint is filed) isn’t correct.”
“I could have written that, it was so much like what my daughter when through (six-years ago),” — Wendy McNeil
Redshaw was able to say when they get a complaint they advise clients to call the dental board.
McNeil said when she filed hers with Mayflower Dental she “definitely” wasn’t told this and would have if she’d been advised to.
“I persuaded (my husband) not to (hire a lawyer). I thought by calling Mayflower Dental something would be done,” she said.
“But now it seems nothing was done to stop this from happening to other children. It really was just an apology … My daughter heard us talking about this the other day and she said, ‘This kind of thing could give a person PTSD.'”
Both the Nova Scotia Dentists Association and Nova Scotia Dental Assistants Association confirmed they don’t have guidelines for members to report peers for professional misconduct.
Like Redshaw, spokespeople for both organizations say any complaints must be directed to the dental board which is legislated to deal with them.
Binder, whose complaint and Facebook post inspired a public campaign to have Gaum’s licence revoked and police investigate criminally, said he’s disappointed Mayflower Dental didn’t stop referring Gaum after McNeil’s complaint.
“It’s sad that her voice wasn’t heard and kids were getting hurt because of it … I want to know why something wasn’t done.”
Nicole Sullivan is an education, enterprise and diversity reporter for the Cape Breton Post.