Health Care

Barred from the operating room, Kansas VA doctor now can’t see patients either

The Department of Veterans Affairs on Wednesday clarified the employment status of a doctor working in the Wichita VA hospital who the state of Missouri says botched surgeries while employed in the Kansas City area several years ago.

But in doing so, the VA raised questions about the timing of its actions to restrict Christel Wambi-Kiesse’s duties there.

The VA reaffirmed that the urologist has been barred from performing surgeries at the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center while his work there is under a “full review,” as The Star reported Tuesday. But a spokesman further went onto say in an email that Wambi-Kiesse is also barred from seeing patients until the hospital decides what to do with him after that review is completed.

That was a change from the day before, when he said the doctor would be having office visits with patients.

The Star reported earlier this month that Wambi-Kiesse was facing the possible loss of his Missouri medical license as a result of a complaint being filed against him by the state’s medical licensing board. That license allows him to practice at the Dole medical center in Kansas because the VA recognizes medical licenses granted in all 50 states.

According to the Missouri Board of Registration for the Healing Arts, Wambi-Kiesse mishandled surgeries that harmed patients while he practiced at a hospital in Independence in 2013. The VA hired him, payroll records show, sometime between his April 2014 resignation from Centerpoint Medical Center and 2015.

In an email sent Monday evening, the VA said Wambi-Kiesse would be “performing administrative duties in lieu of clinical or patient care” during its review.

The Star called Wichita public affairs officer Akeam Ashford on Tuesday seeking clarification after speaking with one of his patients that morning. David Turley of Scott City, Kansas, said Wambi-Kiesse had seen him at 10 a.m. Monday.

“And he had appointments before and after me,” Turley said.

When The Star informed Ashford of that, he said Wambi-Kiesse was not being restricted from having contact with patients. He just couldn’t operate on them.

But on Wednesday, he reversed himself and said that Wambi-Kiesse was only performing administrative duties during the review. As of Wednesday evening, he had not responded to further requests for clarification as to whether his statement the previous day had been in error, or whether additional restrictions had been placed on the doctor.

Also, the matter of when those restrictions were put in place remains unclear.

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Mike Hendricks is a member of The Star’s investigations and watchdog reporting team. Send tips and story ideas in confidence by email to mhendricks@kcstar.com, Twitter direct message @kcmikehendricks, or anonymously via Signal encrypted message at 816-234-4738
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