Owning up to one’s mistakes is difficult and the truth is one of the most difficult things to conceal. These difficulties are exemplified in Stony Brook’s decision to hire Dr. Timothy Kinsella.

Time and time again, there have been reported incidents and thorough documentation of Dr. Kinsella‘s errors in his professional career as both an oncologist and department chair. He has a clear record and has no recorded disciplinary action.
But that absence of recorded disciplinary action means little when you are a patient who is being improperly billed or hoping to provide your son with the best care only to find out that a doctor’s mistake was recognized and ignored.

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Dean Fine

The fact is hospitals, deans of medical schools and universities all across America are selling their respective communities short by looking past the data provided by the National Practitioner Databank. By failing to conduct a thorough investigation into the background of any physician they about to employ, hospitals are putting their patients at risk and tarnishing the reputation of their institution and losing sight of their mission to provide quality care and education.

For months, The Press has worked at trying to set up an interview with both Dr. Richard Fine, dean of the medical school, and Dr. Steven Strongwater, CEO of the SBU hospital, and discuss the hiring process, as well as information they had when hiring Dr. Kinsella. All requests dating back to November have been denied. Departing President Shirley Strum Kenny declined to comment and said that she does not publicly comment on personnel matters.

But this personnel matter is and must be addressed as a public concern. Kinsella, again, is not guilty in any way.  Nevertheless his past actions warrant questions that need answering. The shadow of doubt only grows when he is listed as a visiting professor, giving him the opportunity to teach medicine to Stony Brook graduate students. Even the question as to what classes Kinsella teaches remains unanswered by the administration, which has been hesitant to provide anything at all.

When Kinsella became aware of the mistake in the treatment of a child-patient, he had two options. He could either report the mistake to the family and take responsibility for it or deny that it happened. According to legal depositions, he chose the latter.

Stony Brook University is given a similar option. They can choose to address the situation at hand and move forth with operations bettering the medical center. Or they could choose to withhold information and pretend that nothing has happened and continue what they are doing.

Closure starts with accepting accountability.