Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Husband of fake vax exemption Christchurch doctor Dr Jonie Girouard under spotlight

The husband and clinic director of a doctor at the centre of a bogus jab exemption probe is now also under investigation.

Michael Girouard, the founder and director of the Girouard Centre in Kaiapoi, is now under the scrutiny of health authorities after it was revealed his wife, Dr Jonie Girouard, was handing out illegitimate medical certificates for people to dodge government mandates.

The unvaccinated GP was captured in an undercover Newshub sting issuing fake certificates and coaching patients on how to get away with it.

Her subversive anti-vax actions are the subject of a number of investigations with police confirming they had received a formal complaint from the New Zealand Medical Association.

The Medical Council has begun gathering information “with urgency”. It followed the Ministry of Health rejecting the American physician’s application for a Temporary Significant Service Disruption Exemption within 24 hours of the covert news clip going to air to enable her to treat patients in person without being vaccinated.

Today health authorities confirmed the weight loss clinic director’s actions were being examined in relation to the incident. In the undercover expose the doctor boasted of using the certificate to get an exemption to keep working saying it was easy as her husband was her employer.

The anaesthesiologist-turned-weight loss expert Michael Girouard shares a similar anti-vax stance as his wife, appearing recently on a social media conspiracy site talking about his unvaccinated status before raising issues about the vaccine’s safety.

“The Ministry of Health has not received an application for a Temporary Significant Service Disruption Exemption for Dr Michael Girouard,” said a health ministry spokesperson.

“However, we are looking into this as part of our investigation into Dr Jonie Girouard for an alleged breach of the Covid-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021.”

Michael Girouard is not registered to practise in New Zealand as a medical doctor and the couple’s Girouard Centre weight management and wellness website states that he isn’t registered to work in New Zealand as a GP.

However, the Girouard Centre website says Michael Girouard is available for non-medical appointments at their Canterbury clinic.

Under his biography it states he works two days a week and people can book to see him.

“Dr. G is not registered to practice [sic] medicine in New Zealand and is unable to give medical advice. His personal and professional experience is irreplaceable as a team leader and director.”

A cached image of the now password-protected page on the couple’s New Zealand website shows people can make personal appointments at the Kaiapoi clinic with the staunch anti-vaxxer.

However, a Ministry of Health spokesperson said it was critical for staff working in the health and disability sector to be vaccinated because they were caring for people who were at increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19.

“Schedule 2 of the Covid-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021 requires health practitioners under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act to be vaccinated. It is a breach of the Covid-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021 for a GP to see patients in person without being vaccinated, unless they have a valid exemption.

“All workers who carry out work where health services are provided to members of the public by one or more health practitioners and whose role involves being within two metres or less of a health practitioner or a member of the public for a period of 15 minutes or more, must be vaccinated.

“This includes all staff working in a medical centre,” said the spokesperson.

In October Michael Girouard took part in an anti-vaccination online symposium and spoke for 45 minutes about complications connected with the vaccine.

He said he had not taken the vaccine, his stance guided by his pledge as a doctor to “do no harm”.

“I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to harm anyone by recommending it or not recommending it and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to harm myself because I’ve got a family that depends upon me, medical clients, so I started doing some research,” he told Counterspin.

The Ministry of Health says if a healthcare worker is unvaccinated, they could continue to see patients only if they were working 100 per cent remotely in a telehealth setting.

The Herald has approached Dr Michael Girouard and Dr Jonie Girouard for comment. They have yet to respond to requests.

When a reporter paid the couple a visit at their home in Sefton, North Canterbury, on Thursday, Michael Girouard threatened to call the police.

“Get off the property, now,” the irate clinic boss said.

He threatened the Herald with trespass orders while his wife Dr Jonie Girouard also refused to comment.

Known to his patients as Dr. G, the clinic’s recently public website which is now hidden behind a password, says due to his own personal battles with weight, he has a genuine compassion for others dealing with these same challenges.

“Helping others overcome the ‘drive-to-eat’ and enjoy improved health has been his life-long professional passion.

“Dr. Girouard (Dr. G as most people call him) started his first weight loss clinic in 1981 in New Orleans and later opened clinics in North Carolina in 2000 and Wyoming in 2014 through which over 180,000 patients have been seen since 1981.”

He continues to research and develop new weight management options and has received one patent for obesity treatment and has multiple patents pending, reads the health practitioner’s bio.

It finishes by saying his workdays are Tuesday and Wednesday

Yesterday calls continued to mount for his wife to stop practising.

Christchurch-based National MP Gerry Brownlee told John MacDonald on Newstalk ZB he believed Dr Jonie Girouard should be suspended.

“Obviously that doctor won’t have a hoard of people running there now because they know the opportunity is all over but there is probably a pretty clear message here,” he said.

Labour MP for Christchurch Central Duncan Webb said in his view the conduct of the doctor was not good enough.

“People look to doctors as experts and we’ve got a few outliers out there who are saying things that simply defy the science,” he said.

Webb said in his view “there is absolutely no place for it”.

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