york medical richmond hill

Doctor reprimanded after reportedly handing out exemption letters near Toronto this weekend

This weekend, crowds descended upon a Richmond Hill walk-in clinic where an apparent pandemic-skeptic doctor was said to be mass-issuing letters exempting patients from ongoing public health mandates.

On Saturday, York Medical, located on Yonge Street near Elgin Mills Road, attracted throngs that lined up around the block to see Dr. Christopher Hassell, who was alleged in a Twitter thread of using his medical authority to sidestep public health measures.

Out-of-control crowd sizes and the fact that most attending were reportedly flocking to the clinic seeking to acquire a legal loophole for following public health guidelines drew immediate concerns.

An employee of a dental office in the building York Medical occupies was at the scene on Saturday, telling blogTO that she wasn't sure if the exemptions being handed out were for mask mandates, vaccine mandates, or both.

The employee tells blogTO, "I assumed it was for masks but it could have been vaccines or both. All I know is he was giving out exemption letters to people who came to the walk-in and they were aware of this and lined up for it."

"It was definitely shady because the people in line were rude and very tight-lipped and kept giving different and vague answers as to why they were there."

It didn't take long before crowds were asked to clear out.

Letters were then printed up by the clinic and doled out to the crowds still lined up outside, though they were not the exemption letters they'd all supposedly showed up for.

Instead, they were given notes advising them that no exemptions would be issued.

The letter also seems to indicate that Hassell may have been prescribing, or at least condones the use of Ivermectin, something various medical and drug associations have strongly cautioned against. Its use has been promoted by the alt-right, another facet in the puzzling politicization of a global health crisis.

Hassell has since posted an update on his website, stating, "Please note: Certificates of Medical Exemption are not available through me at this clinic. Due to heavy demand, the number of patients which will be seen on my shifts will be limited. A number system will be used but exceptions will be made for those requiring immediate medical assistance."

It seems York Medical has already responded, with a tweet reporting that the clinic has suspended Dr. Hassell.

York Medical has provided a statement to blogTO, saying, "On Saturday, Dr. Hassell addressed the crowd personally, to inform them that he would not be providing any medical exemptions related to COVID-19, and that it should be a conversation they should be having with their family physicians."

"Our staff also handed out letters to those waiting in line that clearly stated that Dr. Hassell would not be able to see anyone if they had attended in order to obtain a medical exemption related to COVID-19, or a prescription for Ivermectin, as the CPSO clearly states that those conversations should be had with their family doctor."

"Dr. Hassell is not a full-time physician at York Medical — he only covers the occasional weekend walk-in shift for us."

"Dr. Hassell informed us over the weekend that he has decided to pause his practice for now."

Hassell is a practitioner of "functional" and "holistic" medicine, forms of alternative healthcare widely considered pseudoscience by medical industry experts.

Adding fuel to the fire, Hassell's website includes multiple links to another, much more suspect site called Balanced Immunity.

The website's summary includes skepticism on the danger of the virus, questions the use of masks at curbing the pandemic, raises doubts about the reliability of testing regimens, and recommends taking Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic livestock medicine with no verified effects on fighting the virus.

Hassell's main website recommends reducing sugars and increasing vitamin intake to reduce susceptibility to the virus. Yet, not a single mention of vaccines can be found anywhere on the site.

It also claims that he can "no longer prescribe a number of medications," which could be something related to this little tidbit one commenter dug up on Twitter.

This appears to be a move by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), the regulating body for doctors and surgeons.

Many tweets on the issue have also been directed at the CPSO, which is the body that would bring forth any potential disciplinary action if deemed necessary.

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