HALIFAX – A Nova Scotia chiropractor has been ordered to pay $100,000 after admitting professional misconduct for spreading vaccine skepticism on her blog, “Dr. Sexy Mom.”
Dena Churchill has written about vaccinations on the blog and on a Facebook page titled “Dr. Dena Churchill – Innovator in Women’s Health and Wellness,” and refused to delete the posts despite orders from the Nova Scotia College of Chiropractors.
But she ultimately surrendered her licence to practice chiropractic medicine, and admitted earlier this year to being professionally incompetent because of mental incapacity.
Now, the college has ordered Churchill to pay $100,000 to partially cover the costs of its $180,000 investigation.
In a recently released ruling, it noted Churchill is ill, says she’s broke and is no longer practising. But the college rejected her claim that her misconduct was not egregious. “This is an egregious matter. Dr. Churchill has admitted she is guilty of professional misconduct,” the ruling says. “Dr. Churchill was responsible for social media posts outside her scope of practice which were harmful to the public.”
Churchill had said the cost of the investigation grew because of the college’s “protracted” discipline process, but the ruling blamed her for not ending the fight by simply removing the posts.
“This entire matter could have been avoided if Dr. Churchill deleted offending posts from her social media account. She refused,” the college said in its ruling, which placed a publication ban on “personal identifying features regarding Dr. Churchill, other than her name.”
The college said Churchill, who believes vaccinations are harmful, “pushed back” against its attempts to curtail her behaviour and personally attacked the regulator’s members on Facebook.
“Dr. Churchill has shown no remorse. There is genuine concern than she is ungovernable,” it said.
Churchill underwent a “fitness to practise assessment” in October 2018. That process prompted the college’s investigation committee to suspend her licence.
According to the college, the allegations stemmed from online posts between May and September of last year. A notice on the college’s website alleged the online content constituted “marketing activities that were not professional, truthful, verifiable (or) clear.”
Last year, Churchill posted online videos, including one that alleged the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has a financial bias related to vaccines. She also pointed out that she was not representing chiropractors.
A settlement agreement posted by the college says Churchill will not reapply for a licence until a doctor approved by the college determines that she is competent and fit to practise.
She has been given 10 years to pay the $100,000.