***Editor's note: This article was first published Nov. 16. This version corrects the year Dr. Amir Sheik-Yousouf travelled to Dubai.
The top doctor at two Haldimand-Norfolk hospitals is taking a permanent vacation.
Dr. Amir Sheik-Yousouf — who courted controversy late last year by vacationing in Dubai while Ontario was in lockdown — has resigned as chief of staff at Norfolk General Hospital in Simcoe and West Haldimand General Hospital in Hagersville.
In a media release, the hospital board said Sheik-Yousouf is departing as of Dec. 11 “for personal reasons and to spend more time with his family.”
“The board thanks Dr. Sheik-Yousouf for his commitment and dedication and for being a strong leader throughout the pandemic,” the release read.
Sheik-Yousouf, a specialist in internal medicine, leaves Haldimand-Norfolk after two and a half years as chief of staff.
According to the hospital, he was an “advocate for the local care of COVID patients” and the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
“He has worked to improve physician leadership, engagement, and workplace culture,” the hospital board said.
But Sheik-Yousouf may also be remembered for the six weeks he spent away from his patients in late 2020 after deciding to vacation in Dubai for nearly a month while the virus surged at home.
Upon his return, he spent two unpaid weeks in self-isolation before resuming his hospital duties.
After news of his vacation broke in January, the doctor expressed regret over taking a non-essential trip while all levels of government strongly urged residents to stay home.
Hospital executives said they knew of Sheik-Yousouf’s trip ahead of time, and the doctor did not face any public repercussions.
Sheik-Yousouf is the second senior hospital employee to resign in recent months.
Former president and CEO Lucy Bonanno left her post without warning in late August “to pursue other opportunities” after being on the job for just over a year.
The hospital announced Bonanno’s departure as “effective immediately” and would not comment further.
The search for Bonanno’s replacement continues, with a new chief of staff now added to the hospital board’s wish list.
J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator