A senior administrator at the University of British Columbia’s faculty of dentistry left his job as auditors were looking into alleged financial irregularities that are now the subject of a criminal probe spanning the university and affiliated clinics.
Christopher Zed – a faculty member and dentist who arranged treatment for athletes at the 2010 Olympics and spearheaded community dentistry initiatives in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside – left his position as associate dean for strategic and external affairs in December, 2013, the university says.
Dr. Zed oversaw the faculty’s general practice residency program, which is the focus of the investigation.
Citing privacy legislation, university officials have not commented in detail on Dr. Zed’s departure, saying only that he is no longer employed at UBC and his responsibilities have been distributed among other faculty members.
In February, UBC contacted police about possible wrongdoing. The RCMP – which provides police services to the university – have launched a fraud investigation into the faculty of dentistry, saying up to $5-million is involved. No charges have been laid, and police have not named a suspect, although they say they have a person of interest. There has been no suggestion Dr. Zed is the person of interest.
Dr. Zed was also medical director of a dental clinic at Vancouver General Hospital that was part of the residency program. On Friday, a spokesman for Vancouver Coastal Health – which runs the dental clinic, said it is preparing to give the results of its own internal investigation into financial irregularities to city police.
Dr. Zed could not be reached for comment.
According to heavily redacted documents released through a freedom of information request, Vancouver Coastal Health’s internal audit division was looking into dental clinic irregularities last year, and provided a status update to the health authority’s audit committee on Dec. 10.
That is the day Dr. Zed ceased to be medical director of VGH Dental Clinic, according to the Vancouver Coastal Health spokesman.
His departure came months after UBC started looking into alleged financial irregularities at the faculty of dentistry that involved the general practice residency program, which trains a small number of postgraduate residents from across the country. Students are placed in hospital and community clinics affiliated with the program.
Dr. Zed is registered with the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia, but the college currently has no practice address for him.
“Our records indicate that Dr. Zed updated his address information on March 5 as part of the annual renewal process, which all registrants are required to complete,” college spokeswoman Anita Wilks said in an e-mail.
Ms. Wilks would not say whether the college is investigating Dr. Zed, adding that its complaints process is confidential and it does not disclose whether it is investigating a complaint against a registrant.
UBC-affiliated clinics were told of Dr. Zed’s departure, but were not given details.
One of clinics affiliated with the general practice residency program is in the Angkor Hospital for Children in Cambodia.
In a recent e-mail, William Housworth, medical executive director at Angkor said the hospital “has been informed directly by the university in written form that Dr. Chris Zed no longer works there. We do not have any information beyond this.”
A spokeswoman for an affiliated clinic in Skidegate, B.C., said the Skidegate band council was made aware of changes early this year.
According to information provided by Vancouver Coastal Health, the VGH Dental Clinic has a current annual budget of $1.1-million and provides about 10,000 procedures a year.
UBC has said its internal audit division’s accounting work was complex because it has several funding sources, clinics in multiple sites and many institutional and community partners.
The general practice residency program has a budget of about $3-million a year. Overall, UBC has an operating budget of $2-billion.