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Alliston doctor says 'typical Ecuadorean Spanish rant' was lost in translation

UPDATED March 3 (ED NOTE below) ... Posted March 1, 2017

Stevenson Memorial Hospital's Dr. Oswaldo Ramirez was singled out along with some other doctors, in a Toronto Star article published Monday that chronicled an alleged growing level of 'bullying, infighting' among members of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA).

Dr. Ramirez, who served as Stevenson's Chief of Staff (2013-2016), and continues to serve as an emergency room physician, is one of the article's focal points due to his Facebook post on a private group page devoted to OMA matters. And of late, the biggest matter is internal strife between its approximate 34,000 members, and last summer's rejection of a negotiated deal reached between the OMA's executive and the provincial government.

The comments were directed at St. Michael's Hospital family physician Dr. Philip Berger
who penned an opinion piece published Feb. 10, 2017 in the Star
suggesting, "The public will not be fooled by such sanctimonious declarations and moral cover for what lies at the heart of the dispute between government and doctors - physician incomes. And higher wages for doctors will do nothing to remedy the flaws in our health care system....."

In response to Dr. Berger's piece, Dr. Ramirez posted the following on the OMA discussion page, "Cono hijo de puta anda a chupar Berger. Sorry. Couldn't hold that rant back. I revert to my native tongue when mad." (ED NOTE: The Toronto Star amended the translation it originally published attributed to Dr. Ramirez as follows: "F--- you son of a whore. Why don’t you go and suck Berger." It remains at odds with the translation Dr. Ramirez provided to Free Press Online for this article referenced below).

The Star reported that Dr. Ramirez did not comment for the article written by the Star's health reporter, Theresa Boyle, a previous National Newspaper Award winner.

The Star did quote SMH Chief of Staff Dr. Barry Nathanson who noted "Stevenson Memorial does have a policy that prohibits this very kind of activity on social media. Dr. Berger is entitled to express his views, as we all are, without vulgar responses, public or private, from anyone. As a physician myself, I am embarrassed that any colleague would conduct themselves in a manner which lacks the dignity and professionalism that medicine is based upon."

SMH CEO Jody Levac told Free Press Online this morning via email, "Dr Nathanson stated the hospital's position. You can reach out to Dr Ramirez as he represents himself in the matter."

Dr. Ramirez did provide Free Press Online with comments this morning in email replies, including a suggestion the Star's translation was incorrect.

"So my reply is (proper translation: f**king son of a bitch! Go get drunk Berger). That is a typical Ecuadorean Spanish rant," he told Free Press Online.

He said he was responding "on a private Facebook page where doctors only can meet to discuss the issues with the OMA and the Ministry of Health. What the comment does not include is why I was mad."

"I am mad that ivory tower physicians who are paid a salary with health benefits and a pension plan can be judgemental about the front line physicians who work hard and, yes, earn over $340,000 per year," said Dr. Ramirez. "However he (Berger) doesn't have to pay for his office rent, staff, internet, hydro and heat. He had a pension waiting for him upon retirement from academia. He has a defined benefits to cover medications and health. Front line family doctors spend over half of their earnings on overhead. Then whatever is left is taxed at 48.9 per cent. Anyone can do that math. Physicians make less than teachers over the lifetime of work because we have no benefits. We have to earn our own pension savings, after taxes, and we have to still provide for our families. So we are workaholics. We work more to have more. We have sacrificed our twenties and thirties studying to help people live after they make bad life choices."

Dr. Ramirez admitted, "there have been issues with direct personal attacks toward OMA executives but to say this amounts to bullying belittles the true meaning."

He said that as of this morning, Dr. Nathanson had not spoken to him nor has any formal reprimand or communication been delivered in writing or in person."

"No, I don't expect anything from administration because they are aware of the mud slinging and they know me," said Dr. Ramirez. "One of the reasons I stepped down from chief of staff was to protect the organization brand and administration while I actively slog through the political battlefield that is in front. I don't worry what people sling at me. I have been bullied all my life for my skin, my intellect, my origins and my religion. So what? I know who I am and I'm ok. But to try to turn it around on me, painting me as the bully, that is rich indeed."

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All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri
Dr. Cam

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