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Discipline Summary

Melanie Holowach 2005

Following a hearing on November 28 and 29, 2005, a panel of the Discipline Committee of the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario found that Ms. Melanie Holowach committed acts of professional misconduct by:

  • contravening a standard of practice of the profession or failing to maintain the standard of practice of the profession;
  • misappropriating property from a client or workplace;
  • failing to cooperate with a College investigation;
  • failing to reply appropriately or within a reasonable time to a written inquiry made by the College; and
  • engaging in conduct or performing an act relevant to the practice of the profession that, having regard to all the circumstances, would be regarded as unprofessional.

Ms. Holowach did not attend the hearing, despite being properly served, and the hearing proceeded in her absence on the basis that she denied the allegations.

The Discipline Committee panel heard evidence from nine witnesses. Based on the evidence and the submissions of College counsel, the panel found that Ms. Holowach failed to complete or submit the necessary documentation for funding to the Assistive Devices Program (ADP) following assessments with clients. In addition, Ms. Holowach misappropriated an assessment fee from a client for whom she failed to provide adequate and complete service with respect to ADP funding. Ms. Holowach also failed to complete client reports and return client files to an employer after her resignation from that employer. When the College attempted to investigate complaints it received about Ms. Holowach’s conduct, Ms. Holowach failed to respond to any of the College’s communications. The panel also found that Ms. Holowach failed to respond to multiple communications from her former clients and employers.

The Discipline Committee panel found that the evidence did not support findings in respect of failing to keep records in accordance with the standards of the profession; or contravening a law, by-law or rule if the purpose is to protect public health or the contravention is relevant to the member’s suitability to practise.

After considering the submissions of College counsel with respect to penalty and costs, the Discipline Committee panel ordered:

  1. The Registrar to suspend the certificate of registration of Ms. Holowach for a minimum period of six months commencing on a date to be fixed by the Registrar, which suspension would continue until Ms. Holowach complied with the remainder of the order;

  2. The following terms, conditions and limitations to be imposed on Ms. Holowach’s certificate of registration:

    a) That should Ms. Holowach be referred to the Quality Assurance Committee, that she fully cooperate with and participate in all aspects of the Quality Assurance Program as required. This includes responding promptly and appropriately to all written and verbal communications from the College, to fully participate in any peer assessment directed by the Committee and to diligently complete any enhancement opportunities recommended by or any remediation program specified by the Quality Assurance Committee;

    b) If Ms. Holowach resumes practicing as an occupational therapist, she is to ensure that performance review reports acceptable to the Registrar are prepared and delivered to the Registrar by Ms. Holowach’s employer on a semi-annual basis. A performance report shall be provided for each six months of actual practice of occupational therapy by Ms. Holowach for the first year of her actual practice as an occupational therapist. Each performance report shall contain a chart review by Ms. Holowach’s supervisor (or an alternative person acceptable to the Registrar) of at least five randomly selected client charts. Each performance report shall also contain a section completed by an occupational therapist who attended with Ms. Holowach on at least two client visits during the six month period and which contains an assessment of Ms. Holowach’s overall assessment process, clinical reasoning, documentation and follow-up with each client. If Ms. Holowach’s supervisor and/or occupational therapist colleague is unable or unwilling to assist Ms. Holowach in fulfilling the obligations of this section of this Order, the Registrar shall appoint an external reviewer to perform a similar review at Ms. Holowach’s expense;

    c) That Ms. Holowach not supervise other occupational therapists or students for a period of actual practice of occupational therapy of one year following completion of the suspension; and

    d) That within 60 days of the order being made Ms. Holowach diligently search her possessions for all documents she has relating to her work with her former employer and deliver them to the former employer and then deliver an affidavit to the Registrar that she has done so.

  3. Ms. Holowach to appear before a panel of the Discipline Committee to be reprimanded and that the fact of such a reprimand be recorded in the public portion of the register;

  4. Ms. Holowach to pay to the College $7,000 towards the costs and expenses of investigating and prosecuting this matter, payable in full by May 31, 2006; and

  5. The terms, limitations and conditions be removed from Ms. Holowach’s certificate of registration when all have been successfully completed, in the opinion of the Registrar.

The Discipline Committee panel found that while the penalty was onerous, it reflected the fact that the public, employers, funding agencies and vendors were all impacted by the unprofessional conduct displayed by Ms. Holowach. There were no mitigating factors presented to the panel on behalf of Ms. Holowach. The panel found that the order provided a reasonable mechanism by which Ms. Holowach could rehabilitate herself and return to practice as an occupational therapist if she establishes that she is competent and governable. The panel was of the view that the penalty must be sufficiently severe to ensure that Ms. Holowach understands that any repetition of the type of conduct in issue would not be tolerated.