More parents and former patients of a well-known Halifax dentist are coming forward with allegations of professional misconduct.
Elsie Higgins says back in 2013, her then-23-month-old son was referred to Granville Dental, along the Bedford Highway, to see Dr. Errol Gaum. She says her son wouldn’t stop crying and yelling throughout the appointment, and she wasn’t allowed inside to see him.
“The crying didn’t stop,” she said. “It was more than just the typical ‘I don’t want to be here’ type of crying.”
Higgins says when her son came out of the appointment, he was red all over his face and was feeling ill. When they got home, Higgins says they discovered more marks on his face.
“He had indentations from fingernails in his chin, the side of his face, his forehead. His hands were marked up, his arms,” she said.
“It was just something you didn’t want to see on your child.”
Higgins says she filed a complaint with the Canadian Pediatric Society, the Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia and the police. She says the dental board indicated Gaum would receive a letter of reprimand.
Global News has reached out to the Canadian Pediatric Society for comment on the allegations. The society said it doesn’t receive or process official complaints, as it isn’t a licensing agent.
Halifax police said it would not comment on the matter, as it is not their practice to provide information in relation to those named in investigations unless there have been charges laid.
The Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia did not respond to requests by Global News to confirm it received Higgins’ complaint or whether it issued a letter of reprimand. They say the board is currently not conducting interviews.
Higgins’ complaint is one of many that have surfaced against Dr. Gaum after a Facebook post describing an appointment last week garnered thousands of shares.
A Facebook page called “Victims of Dr. Errol Gaum” has since been created with others sharing similar stories.
Kelli Kayln says she was referred to Dr. Gaum when she was child back in the 1990s. She says she was referred to him to get a tooth removed.
She, too, says her father wasn’t allowed in the room during the procedure.
“He was pulling (the tooth) out and he had actually put one of his knees, was kneeling on my chest with one leg on the floor to give him stability,” Kayln says.
“He was pulling and pulling, and I was crying and telling him that I’m feeling everything, we need to stop, I’m crying for my parents, and he said shut up.”
Kayln is one of the several members of the “Victims of Dr. Errol Gaum” Facebook page, which she says is an important platform to use to get decades-old stories like hers out there.
“We just want to be heard. We just want parents to be aware of that situation, that unfortunately there are people like him in the world,” she said.
The Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia once again declined an interview, but in a statement said it is aware of concerns that have been posted on Facebook and take the complaints “very seriously.”
“The mandate of the Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia is to protect the public interest,” said Dr. Curtis Gregoire, deputy registrar of the Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia, in the statement. “The Board fulfils this role by ensuring that all of Nova Scotia’s dentists are practising ethically and according to acceptable standards of practice and patient care.
“Dentists that are found to have not provided the proper standard of dental care can be disciplined.”
Halifax Regional Police have confirmed that since the weekend, they’ve received three reports that a man who was working at a dental clinic at 1083 Bedford Highway assaulted a patient.
Since Friday, Dr. Gaum’s legal representation has changed. He is now being represented by the law firm Pink Larkin.
His attorney, Joel Pink, declined to comment and an interview with Dr. Gaum was not granted.