NATIONAL

Sorry, the doctor can’t see you

A key military base in the Afghan mission loses its only shrink

MARTIN PATRIQUIN April 30 2007
NATIONAL

Sorry, the doctor can’t see you

A key military base in the Afghan mission loses its only shrink

MARTIN PATRIQUIN April 30 2007

Sorry, the doctor can’t see you

A key military base in the Afghan mission loses its only shrink

BY MARTIN PATRIQUIN • Canadian troops returning to CFB Gagetown from Afghanistan this summer may well find themselves without psychiatric care. The base’s only psychiatrist was suspended for having sex with a patient. In late March, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador suspended Dr. James Hanley for professional misconduct after he admitted to several sexual encounters with Kathleen Wiseman, his long-time patient in St. John’s. The suspension effectively prevents Hanley from practising at the base in HE WAS New Brunswick, where he PATIENT has worked with increasing frequency since 2002. FRAGILE

on the military base, where 4,500 soldiers live and train, and which is the primary mounting base for Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. Even before the suspension, Hanley wasn’t working full-time at Gagetown, and now that he is restricted to administrative duties, Canadian Forces officials are wondering what might be the repercussions for Canadian soldiers. “Is it a crisis? No, because the soldiers will be cared for,” said Maj. Rakesh Jetly, director and psychiatrist at the Canadian Forces’ Operational Trauma and Stress Support Centre in Halifax. “But you have to understand that psychiatry is unique. You develop a therapeutic relationship [with a patient]. Someone stepping in and fine-tuning medication isn’t going to replace that. The longterm continuity of care issue, that’s been abruptly terminated and that’s going to cause most of the problems.”

Jetley says a part-time psychiatrist will start in two weeks, although he admits there will be a significant problem if the college doesn’t find a “timely permanent solution” to Hanley’s interim suspension. Before the suspension, but after the allegations came about, Jetley says officials performed a risk assessment on keeping Hanley in the clinic, which demonstrated the doctor’s vital role on the base. “We looked at the risk of that practice versus the risk of not having psychiatric services to the hundreds of soldiers that he sees,” Jetley says, adding that Hanley’s return would mean better care for the number of soldiers returning with post-traumatic stress disorder—a field in which Hanley has excelled over the last several years.

Hanley’s problems, though, aren’t anything new. Canadian Forces officials became aware of his case about a year and a half ago, when Wiseman complained that he took advantage of her fragile state—she’d suffered a major car accident and had multiple cancer treatments—for sexual ends. A tearful Hanley apologized to Wiseman and to his other patients, blaming long hours and time away from his family for what he called “a very serious boundary violation.” The Newfoundland college suspended his licence and fined him $12,500. This meant an automatic suspension of his licence to practise medicine in New Brunswick—and an end to his clinical work with the armed forces.

HE WAS SUSPENDED AFTER A PATIENT COMPLAINED HE USED HER FRAGILE STATE FOR SEXUAL ENDS

college president Smith says Hanley, who could not be reached for comment, must be held to provincial norms regardless for whom he works. “We’re in a situation now where our poor guys are getting killed and seeing their buddies blown to pieces in that terrible, stupid adventure in Afghanistan, and they are coming back and we need to give them all the help we can give them. But do we have to make an exception because the Canadian military intervenes, or would you say that every doctor has to be judged on the merits of the complaint?” M