Heartbreak after flowers laid in memory of dentist who died with Covid are removed by council

The partner of a much-loved dental surgeon who died after contracting coronavirus said he was left “heartbroken” when the council removed floral tributes laid outside the practice in her memory.

Dr Grazyna Pawlak had travelled to Poland for an operation on her shoulder in July, but ended up staying longer than anticipated to care for her elderly mother.

She had been due to return home to Prestatyn last month, but was unable to fly back due to covid restrictions.

The 69-year-old, who worked at My Dentist on Prestatyn High Street for 14 years, contracted coronavirus and passed away with breathing difficulties last week.

Her devastated partner Kev Thomas arranged for a small memorial to take place outside the practice, where her colleagues laid bunches of flowers on a nearby bench to pay their respects.



June Carter Cash et al. posing for the camera: Dr Grazyna Pawlak with partner Kev Thomas


© Kev Thomas
Dr Grazyna Pawlak with partner Kev Thomas

But they were removed on Tuesday by Denbighshire Council, who have since apologised for the “error” and pledged to replace them.

Kev, who lives on Anglesey said: “It broke my heart. I wanted to do something nice to pay tribute to Grazyna.

“I couldn’t believe it when I found out the council had removed the flowers. I was devastated, as were Grazyna’s colleagues.

“She was very highly thought of in the town and people just wanted to pay their respects as she’d worked in the practice for 14 years and had over 6,000 patients.

“It’s hard enough losing your partner, especially at this time of year, but not being able to go to her funeral and then having this happen too just set me back.”



a vase of flowers sitting on a bench: Floral tributes were laid outside the dental practice in Prestatyn


© Kev Thomas
Floral tributes were laid outside the dental practice in Prestatyn

Kev said he and Grazyna would video call each other every night since she left for Poland, but her health went downhill while she cared for her 94-year-old mother, who also caught coronavirus but recovered.

Sadly, Grazyna, who had one daughter and two grandchildren, died on November 25.

Kev described his partner of three years as someone who would “go out of her way for anyone” and “always put others first”.

She had been a dentist for over over 40 years, spending the first 28 years of her career in the city of Wroclaw.

Tributes have been paid to Grazyna on social media from members of the Prestatyn community.

One said: “Such a tragedy, lovely lady.”

Another wrote: “Very sorry for a big loss.”

One added: “May she rest now, lovely lady will be missed.”

One of Grazyna’s patients said: “Aw no, so sad she was my dentist, she was starting to teach me Polish. Love to all her friends and family.”

A Denbighshire Council spokesman said: “We would like to offer our condolences to Mr Thomas and all those affected.

“The flowers were removed in error.

“The council has spoken to Mr Thomas and apologised for the removal.

“A letter of apology will be written to staff at the dental practice and the council will replace the

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Study Finding Patients of Female Surgeons Fare Better is Removed

An Elsevier journal has, for the moment, removed a paper which found that the patients of female surgeons fare better than those treated by men.

Although the journal didn’t provide an explanation for the move — unfortunately not unusual for Elsevier — a spokesman for the publisher told us that reader complaints about the methodology and statistics in the article prompted the action.

The paper, which appeared last month in Surgery — the official journal of the Society of University Surgeons, Central Surgical Association Central Surgical Association, and the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons — was written by a group at the University of South Florida, in Tampa, led by Tara M. Barry, a general surgery resident at the institution.

“Battle of the sexes: The effect of surgeon gender on postoperative in-hospital mortality,” isn’t available on the journal website. However, a conference abstract by the authors states:

Patients who underwent bariatric procedures, mastectomy and open cholecystectomy had lower rates of in-hospital mortality if the surgeon was female while male surgeons did not have a significant mortality advantage for any of the 25 procedures. Further studies examining national data may provide additional insight regarding the effect of surgeon gender on patient outcomes.

According to the notice, which Elsevier styles a “temporary removal”:

The publisher regrets that this article has been temporarily removed. A replacement will appear as soon as possible in which the reason for the removal of the article will be specified, or the article will be reinstated.

The paper — isn’t the first to find the gender effect in surgery — drew a bit of attention on social media. Most mentions simply called attention to the article. But one surgeon, Olga Muldoon, raised questions about the work:


 

We emailed Barry for comment but have not heard back.

Elsevier’s Andrew Davis told us:

It appears that, soon after the paper appeared online, the journal has received a complaint regarding the methodology and the statistics included in the paper. The Editors-in-Chief have decided to temporarily remove the Article-in-Press until the investigation is completed.

 

When the investigation will be finished, the AiP will be either reinstated on Science Direct or permanently withdrawn.

This article originally appeared on Retraction Watch.

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