Executive with WRHA accused of conflict of interest

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The Manitoba Liberals are accusing a senior executive with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority of having a conflict of interest.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/10/2010 (4370 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Manitoba Liberals are accusing a senior executive with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority of having a conflict of interest.

This morning, Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard showed reporters an Aug. 30 press release out of San Diego announcing the appointment of Brock Wright to the board of directors of TearLab Corp., a company that sells equipment to help patients with dry eye disease.

Wright is senior vice-president clinical services and chief medical officer with the WRHA.

MIKE DEAL / FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Dr. Brock Wright

In the press release, TearLab said: “We are fortunate to have Dr. Wright join our team. Brock brings a tremendous wealth of experience in health services delivery management and has a proven track record of success in operations management. His expertise in state-run healthcare, regulatory and reimbursement will be particularly invaluable to the success of the commercialization of the TearLab (TM) Osmolarity System in jurisdictions outside of the U.S.”

“What Dr. Wright is doing is essentially serving two masters — the WRHA and an American health products corporation,” Gerrard said.

“This is a clear conflict of interest. We are paying Brock Wright, now, $300,000 a year. He should not be moonlighting for an American health products corporation, period,” he said.

“I’m appalled that the NDP, after 11 years (in office), have not set up processes to ensure that this kind of conflict does not happen.”

However, Heidi Graham, a spokeswoman for the WRHA said Wright is not in a conflict of interest.

“Dr. Wright let us know when he was invited to sit on the board of directors of this company,” she said. “We have no business relationship with this company. Their business is aimed primarily at independent physicians, family physicians.”

Having said that, she said, if the company was interested in selling product to the WRHA and Wright was aware of it, “he would recuse himself from any discussions.”

Graham said the WRHA has a very strict purchasing policy that outlines the tendering process, the committees that evaluate the tendering process and the process for awarding a bid. “Dr. Wright is not on the committee that makes those decisions,” she said. “So there is no conflict of interest.”

She said Wright would not be available for comment today. “He’s got a full schedule today,” Graham said.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

History

Updated on Wednesday, October 20, 2010 11:19 AM CDT: Corrects Wright's position.

Updated on Wednesday, October 20, 2010 11:39 AM CDT: Adds comment from Heidi Graham, spokeswoman for the WRHA.

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