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May-11-2012 01:22printcommentsVideo

The Most Honest and Punished Doctor in America?

Rising like a phoenix from the flames of whistleblower retaliation, Dr. Gaston Cornu-Labat proved his critics to be painfully wrong on every count.

Dr. Gaston Cornu-Labat
Dr. Gaston Cornu-Labat

(QUINCY, WA) - When I think about the intense series of battles Dr. Gaston Cornu-Labat has won against seemingly insurmountable odds; losing and eventually regaining his right to practice medicine, it offers hope that others singled out and punished by public officials bent on whistleblower retaliation can also find real vindication.

His struggles are far from over. As it turns out, doctors who illustrate illegal and improper facilities and treatment practices are not popular in the medical community these days. What was once the most honorable of professions, is now a culture of fear and intimidation.

It all happened at a place called Quincy Valley Medical Center in Quincy, Washington. Rural communities naturally have a hard time attracting high level surgeons to their medical facilities. They lack the great pay and prestige of other medical centers in large, metropolitan areas.

What we learn from this account is that a) it is indeed possible to locate doctors willing to work harder and make less because a select few physicians realize the existing need of these communities and, b) Facilities of this nature are otherwise existing with sub-standard practices. They inadvertently create a situation where they can not improve without causing excessive discomfort with largely unqualified medical staffs.

Courtesy: whistleblower.org

An Impossible Role

But when you learn what levels of retaliation this man battled and defeated, it will curdle the milk in your stomach. It goes so completely against the grain of everything we know to be right, that it becomes appalling. I can't say this with certainty, but I suspect that Dr. Cornu-Labat's meticulous record-keeping skills are the only reason he emerged from this as a winner, because his honesty at that facility earned many enemies and many are in very high level positions- even now.

I will tell you before really opening this up, that the grand finale, where Dr. Cornu-Labat reads the Washington State Medical Board the riot act, is like the realization of a dream. Rarely if ever in life does a person have a chance to really set things into place for what they are, the way this doctor did.

When Dr. Gaston Cornu-Labat took his position at the Quincy Valley Medical Center, the hospital administration was thrilled. They had hoped to secure a bright mind such as his to raise the level of care at this aged facility.

One of the first things they asked him to for was to bring the hospital a capability to perform surgery services, which he did to great success. This one improvement brought the medical center to a position it had not previously held.

This should have been the beginning of many great things in this rural Washington community, however that did not turn out to be the case.

The success of the surgery department led to Dr. Cornu-Labat's being asked to assist in an overhaul of the entire medical facility, which he agreed to. However when this process began, so came the discoveries of unqualified employees in positions they were not suitable for. It was an alarming discovery.

Yet in the spirit of above-board integrity, he simply did what was right, he exposed what he found, because renovating the hospital meant at the bare minimum, operating in a legal and qualified manner. In this respect, Gaston Cornu-Labat had no alternatives. He had to report what he discovered.

As Gaston battled to preserve his professional life, the hard
decision was made to have his family return to Argentina.

Then, between February and July of 2009, Quincy Valley Medical Center authorities charged Dr. Cornu-Labat with participating in a series of investigations and improvements of said hospital.

Throughout this process I, together with several others, found in this hospital numerous problems caused by negligence, ineptitude, laziness and lack of professionalism and responsibility from certain employees and authorities.

As these findings started becoming obvious, and aimed to thwart any efforts to put these in evidence and, conversely, force us to look the other way and pretend that nothing was happening or had happened; me and those others that were pointing out these concerning issues started suffering all sorts of pressures, discomforts and even veiled or direct threats.

It is true that this is often the point where professionals give up, accept defeat and fall silent. That was not to be the case with Dr. Cornu-Labat, who refused to ignore the serious problems and negligence that plagued QVMC.

This doctor paid a high price for integrity

He decided neither to keep quiet nor look the other way.

And it was then that, in a sudden and mysterious way, absurd and – mainly- false allegations about me surfaced. Some of these accusers officially to this day still remain anonymous. As it is also well known to most of you, these pressuring and defamatory maneuvers have inappropriately accomplished their goal of putting in doubt both my personal and my professional reputation.

Things got so ugly for this doctor. As the focus of an integrated effort to repudiate his allegations, the officials of QVMC, the local police, the Washington State Medical Board, and other entities, including The Quincy Valley Post-Register, banded together and the allegations against him, rather than the very serious ones he raised, became the focus of the discussion.

We find fewer things more distressing than media that abandons its chief responsibilities to its community; and first and foremost of those are safety and truth. This doctor has been vindicated beyond a shadow of a doubt, by the most powerful entity that participated, the state's own medical board. This gives little credence to all those who vilified him, including local press.

Proving that truth can conquer unprecedented attacks.

It is a classic technique: attacking the accuser in unprecedented ways, far below the belt. The discrediting process used against Dr. Cornu-Labat is almost a textbook move. However he was not an easy target, not at all. Throughout his ordeal, he proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that truth will win the day when it is documented and when the conveyor of that truth refuses to be quiet. They certainly picked on the wrong man.

It took years, but finally, on the 1st of December in 2011, vindication knocked on his door. On that day all doubts were eradicated; and on 12th December 2011 this was officially recognized and accepted.

Through the efforts of this doctor and others like him, great change can be accomplished. It takes support, and when the agency charged with overseeing doctors launches into vendetta politics against people of this caliber, they run great risk, and sometimes, as in this case, they lose very thoroughly. This story should have been front page in Seattle and beyond, but instead those agencies that depend on their economic support from this jaded industry have not touched it.

There is no question that this story involves the highest levels of public interest, and the truth is that many of the problems in QVMC persist. Some, Dr. Cornu-Labat says, "...have been either partially addressed, ill addressed or addressed only in appearance, others persist and several others have been generated; and since specifically in my case the damage has been so radical and the official recognition in my favor has been necessary but not enough".

Among the highlights of the campaign against this doctor, are allegations of 'mental instability' and Dr. Cornu-Labat being arrested while attending his son's first high school varsity basketball game, because the hospital CEO's child was attending the game, and to build a case against Dr. Cornu-Labat, the CEO had attained a legal restraining order against him. The child called the CEO father, who called the police, and they arrested Dr. Cornu-Labat in front of the entire high school parent community.

One key point of this doctor's legal success stems from his Psychiatric evaluations –in the end Dr. Cornu-Labat had been through two psychiatric and four psychological and neuropsychological evaluations, 6 in total! With a chuckle and a smile, he boasts the title of "one of the most officially sane individuals in the world!"

Those who have been down this road come to understand that these so-called 'experts' are often little more than legal tools for a particular side to benefit from. That aside, there was no easy way to paint this doctor as anything but exceptionally clear of mind.


The Psychiatrist, whose name is Robert I. Fink, wrote in his conclusion:

On examination, Dr. Cornu-Labat presents as a tall, athletic man, who is casually dressed and well groomed with short dark hair and he is clean shaven. He was open and cooperative with the interview process, making special effort to answer all questions completely and honestly. His demeanor was pleasant and he was not defensive in any way. his affect was full and his speech was of normal limits. I found no evidence of delusional thinking or hallucinations. He was neither grandiose nor euphoric and his mood was judged to be euthymic. He does not have suicidal or homicidal ideation. He is oriented in app spheres and his intellect is judged to be above average. His energy level, motivation, memory, and concentration are all within normal limits. He is cognitively intact. He does indicate that the situation he finds himself in with regards to the hospital and WHPH (described above) causes him some anxiety, but has not led to depression or insomnia. He does not have any other anxiety symptoms. He has not had any problems with anger management and has no legal history. he notes that he has lost 15-20 pounds during this ordeal, but that he is now at the same weight that he was when he came to Nebraska and is happy with his weight. He normally exercises regularly, but has not gone to the gym lately. he continues to be deeply involved with his wife and children and has a good group of friends both in Quincy and in the Seattle area.

It is my opinion that Dr. Cornu-Labat does not suffer from any psychiatric disorder whatsoever and never has. I find no evidence of personality disorder. He is clearly passionate about the way he feels medicine could, and should be practiced and it is critical of the medical system in this country. He wants to work for change. While this may put him at odds with traditionalists, it does not constitute illness. Often we find that those people who have and promote new and different ideas are disturbing, bu that does not equate to being disturbed!

This is the first report on a series about the long journey of Dr. Gaston Cornu-Labat.

 

______________________________

Tim King in 2008, covering the Iraq War

Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer

Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Tim is Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from The Associated Press the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs, Electronic Media Association and The Red Cross In a personal capacity, Tim has written 2,026 articles as of March 2012 for Salem-News.com since the new format designed by Matt Lintz was launched in December, 2005.

Serving readers with news from all over the globe, Tim's life is literally encircled by the endless news flow published by Salem-News.com, where more than 100 writers contribute stories from 20+ countries and regions.

Tim specializes in writing about political and military developments worldwide with an emphasis on Palestine and Sri Lanka, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the U.S. Marines. You can write to Tim at this address: tim@salem-news.com. Visit Tim's Facebook page (facebook.com/TimKing.Reporter)




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Candace,Harry Erickson and Betty Swi May 19, 2012 1:42 pm (Pacific time)

Miss Brellows is a typical example of a person who throws comments around about issues that are highly sensitive and of the utmost importance. She seems to base her comments on inaccurate or insufficient information, which brings her to make preconceptive remarks that are prejudice and erroneous at best. So that this matter becomes completely clear, Dr. Cornu-Labat wishing to fulfill his civic and moral duties carried out a series of thoroughly documented denouncements about a health care facility and its regulating agencies that he had been working for. As a result of these actions, those implicated in these activities orchestrated a scheme to punish him, wear him down, discourage him and pressure him into desisting from continuing to investigate, denounce and reveal these issues to the public. This strategy has been and continues to be based on defamation, slander and sprinkled with false and unsupported accusations. Both the WPHP and DOH took part in this case utterly failing to make clear the reasons why they were demanding his evaluation, and unable to sustain those accusations. Further, to this day Dr. Cornu-Labat has not been able to obtain all of the names of his accusers and those accusers expect to be able to continue to conceal their identity in anonymity. Further a real investigation, as clearly required by law, remains non existent; constituting these facts a clear encroachment of people and professional rights and an aver ant example of abuse of power. In this case the interactions of the main authorities and agencies in the health care field are well known and established in bad faith and in the use of their power, to subjugate and blacken the reputation of those people that question the mistakes of these individuals in high positions with the sole intent to mire their victim, harboring themselves in that shelter conferred by the misuse of the law.


Ann Brellows May 18, 2012 6:40 pm (Pacific time)

While this doctor’s story may be at this point unfortunate, being that DOH as a regulating and controlling agency is there to safeguard the health and wellbeing both of the public and practitioners; I am completely in favor of them demanding an evaluation of a practitioner for any legitimate doubt of mental insanity. Because of this I think it is most bizarre for this doctor to have rebelled against this order for evaluation.

Editor: Well we find it bizarre that an institution would cut off its nose to spite its face...


Mary Dwinker May 17, 2012 9:04 pm (Pacific time)

Mr. Lee S., I never met you nor Dr. Cornu Labat but I can tell you that unfortunately I am familiar with the techniques used to discredit and slander well intended individuals that become an inconvenience to bad people in positions of power, and also that I have personally been a victim of these abusive methods that were easily able to accomplish their goals through the actions of unscrupulous individuals under the cloak of anonymity. If we express ourselves in good faith with valid elements to back our statements, the only justifications for anonymity would be to avoid persecution when there is NO freedom of speech. Fortunately, here as you well pointed out, free speech is a right in our Nation. Consequently the only reasons that I can think of that made you and Blake express yourselves anonymously is that you acted in bad faith and your asses are dirty or that you are ignorant or immature and consequently unable to take full responsibility of your statements and actions.


Sergio Perez May 17, 2012 4:42 pm (Pacific time)

I’ve known Gaston and his wonderful family for a long time. We are close friends. Together with other friends, we’ve helped and supported Gaston through his ordeal. Gaston is an outstanding human being with good intentions who stood up to false accusations and refused to yield to intimidation. Something most of us are afraid of doing. Having said that, I agree with the concept of any story having 2 sides. Everybody should have access to the other side. By hiding and anonymously writing “Gaston had many mental issues”, Mr. Blake May is showing the other side’s story. There were plenty of people like Mr. Blake May accusing Gaston of having "mental issues". I remember one of the allegations about his mental health related to the fact that he had taken vacations! … another questioned his mental health because, unexpectedly, his new hairstyle was bald!. In spite of all attempts to discredit him, Gaston has been cleared and he got his license back. Intimidation didn’t work in this particular case. I think that more false accusations should just make his case stronger. We should all take notice, especially, those Physicians who endure the same type of treatment from a very sick “Health” system.


Lee S. May 15, 2012 4:02 pm (Pacific time)

Without making comment about the story, I find the "Editor's" response to Blake completely unprofessional. It appears that responding anonymously in a favorable manner to the article published about Dr. Cornu-Labat is an acceptable exercise of "free speech". However, drawing attention to the possibility of "the rest of the story" makes one subject to the requirement of first and last name as well as "proving their identity". I would say the Editor's comment has confirmed to me that in fact this forum is, indeed, little more than a "game board." Out of curiousity, did you contact the other parties involved; i.e. regulatory agencies, hospital officials....or anybody besides Dr. Cornu-Labat? Or is that part of the "game board?"

Editor: Well that is how things are done around here, we are impatient with false information, what more can I say.  If someone wants to put an allegation out, they can put their name on it.  I have little patience for anyone who starts talking about matters that are already fully vetted legally.  That comment bordered on being childish.  This is a story about slander and multiple parties collaborating to retaliate against a physician, the allegations against Dr.Cornu-Labat have all been disproved; that is why he is a practicing doctor again.  I do find this discussion remedial.. Now, there are many times when we contact both sides for a particular issue, but when one side loses all credibility, how can an honest reporter put their words into a story?  I will tell you that we reviewed a substantial amount of information regarding this piece before it was published. 


Anonymous May 13, 2012 12:52 pm (Pacific time)

I want to add, the link I sent, will tell you how to get better from things such as diabetes, overweight, cancer, etc. The reason people are sick is because of the lack of minerals that sustain our bodies. Vaccines, GMO food, high fructose corn syrup, etc, all approved by the FDA is killing us. Its called "eugenics" look it up.


Anonymous May 13, 2012 12:47 pm (Pacific time)

I am providing a link that is an hour long, so I know many wont have the time or patience to listen/view, but after a decade of research, this one is a good one. I even listened to it twice. There is some "sell their product" stuff, and their stuff is good, but you can ignore it, and just listen to the overall opinions. I think you will find it amazing, and it will save you tons of money overall. Those in charge do not want us better, or healthy, they want us addicted to their pharma drugs, and expensive hospital procedures. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0O9POr5jmRsandlist=UUvsye7V9psc-APX6wV1twLgandindex=2andfeature=plcp


Lisa May 12, 2012 9:35 am (Pacific time)

Thank you for covering this story. Looking forward to the next part. Our family met Gaston the day he came to Quincy to practice. Later, our families became friends and our 2 of our children actually became patients. We attended many events together to watch our kids at their sports events. Sadly, we also had to watch a hospital administration and certain individuals in the community destroy him and his family. Over what? Believe me it wasn't over mental issues as we were around him on a weekly and often daily basis. I have always felt it was more of personality conflict between Gaston and some at the hospital. We were all so sad to lose him as a doctor but even more saddened to lose their wonderful family from our community. It's hard to find doctors that want to live in small rural communities and when you find one that not only wants to live here but who also coached sports teams and helped on community events it was even better. The worst part..... is that no one won in this case. We've lost a well loved family that wanted to live and practice in Quincy and our hospital lost credibility with the community. In the end we all lost.


Richard L. Matteoli May 12, 2012 6:08 am (Pacific time)

Referral for mental issues. Happens all the time when a patient questions, even to other health care professionals. They want to discredit the person or patient, do not want to confront the issue of possible problems on their part. Cover their asses amongst each other. The 'mental issue' thing occurs all the time in the VA system hoping they get stuck and buried there without any patient resolution or benefits given.


Richard L. Matteoli May 12, 2012 6:00 am (Pacific time)

Blake, look up the Semmelweis Reflex on the Internet. This is in the footsteps of Dr. Ignatz Semmelweis a generation before Louis Pasteur. Medical school professor in Hungary. Did an extensive study why so many women were dying at the medical school after giving birth. This was not happening at his clinic run by midwives. He concluded other professors and students did not wash their hands after autopsies and then do pelvic examinations. His recommendation was to wash hands after each patient. Lost his medical school job. Was hounded by his other physicians and medical society. Lost his practice. Could not practice again. Died a broken man.


Richard L. Matteoli May 12, 2012 5:55 am (Pacific time)

Blake, look up the Semmelweis Reflex on the Internet. This is in the footsteps of Dr. Ignatz Semmelweis a generation before Louis Pasteur. Medical school professor in Hungary. Did an extensive study why so many women were dying at the medical school after giving birth. This was not happening at his clinic run by midwives. He concluded other professors and students did not wash their hands after autopsies and then do pelvic examinations. His recommendation was to wash hands after each patient. Lost his medical school job. Was hounded by his other physicians and medical society. Lost his practice. Could not practice again. Died a broken man.


PlaceboJacque May 11, 2012 1:13 pm (Pacific time)

Thank you for posting this! I am glad Dr Gaston is getting the support he needs, I am disappointed in the QVPR and their reporting tactics, I post comments there and they never get posted in support of the good DR. THANKS TIM


Blake May 11, 2012 12:18 pm (Pacific time)

All I can say is that the other side needs to be heard too. Gaston had many mental issues and was referred to evaluations but refused to go. That is what lost got his license revoked.

Editor: In fact Gaston could not be more sane and that (I don't think you read the article) was made exceedingly clear by the six different tests he was put through.  I have evaluated this case at length and there is nothing to what you said at all, pure fantasy, and that is the point of the story.  Anyone else who believe they should add a comment about something that has been fully disproved; use a first and a last name and then send an email to our newsroom to prove your identity. This is not a game board, for the record.   


Erin MacDonald May 11, 2012 12:08 pm (Pacific time)

This is completely outrageous, does this community want to undermine its own welfare to protect its inadequacies? I try to imagine my doctor being treated like this, frankly I can not.

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