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Clinic’s closure remains mystery

When you read the opening to the Nov. 8 “Dear Patient” letter that Tracey Brierly and some others received from the KE Medical Group, you realize that it embodies the weirdness surrounding the group’s very public demise.

“KE Medical Group is saddened to inform you that your neurologist, Dr. Abraham Nagy, is no longer with our practice. And, unfortunately, KE Medical Group has officially closed our practice.”

Yes, those two lines that leave you shaking your head capture the bizarre ending of a clinical practice that Doug Cooper, executive director of the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners, now says may have unnecessarily left not just hundreds, but perhaps thousands, of patients in the lurch — people who’ve been unable to get prescription refills, treatments completed, appointments made, records transferred.

It’s been a month since the group abruptly closed. Some patients received warnings from medical staff and managed to pick up records without a problem. But most knew nothing about it, and they called the media and state authorities for help.

When angry patients showed up at the offices frantically trying to get their records, they caused such a commotion that police were called.

The 18,000-square-foot facility at 8205 W. Warm Springs Road was closed up so fast that dangerous drugs weren’t properly secured, forcing state authorities to confiscate them.

Even some doctors said the closing caught them by surprise and said so in letters to their patients.

At present, patients are less agitated than when I visited this subject in November, largely because of the efforts of Cooper and his staff, who directed the group to update its website, www.kemedicalgroup.com, and phone information, 702-724-8888, regarding the securing of medical records and contacting of doctors.

Cooper says he heard that the group mailed out as many as 16,000 letters with the same information, but he does not know if that number reflects active patients at the time of the closing.

Why the clinic closed as it did remains a mystery. If anything, the reason for the sudden closure has become even more difficult to understand thanks to a recent press release written by Chet Nichols, who identified himself as a representative of a former lender (unnamed) to the group.

While Nichols, who’s been unavailable for comment, wrote that poor economic results caused “a cessation of funding,” he never suggests the cutoff should have been a surprise. Instead, he notes that during three years millions in loans were made to an operation that “never made a profit,” a group whose “original business model contained many flaws that were simply not addressed within a timely manner.”

Do you think the lender might have long been urging a fix to the flaws, even mandating an “or else” timetable when it came to funding?

There’s no doubt Cooper’s convinced that people connected to the Las Vegas facility knew when KE Medical Group would close.

The medical group’s business practices, he says, are now under investigation by state authorities.

It was, Cooper says, “absolutely unnecessary” for the group to close down as it did, causing what he calls “chaos with unintended consequences” that included heart patients unable to get critical medications refilled.

Cooper says he has no recollection of a large practice ever closing its doors on its own without an orderly transition for patients. At the time of the closure, the KE Medical Group’s official website listed 10 physicians.

Doctors named on the website were: Paul Emery, Barry Nahin, John Rhodes, Ethan Cruvant, Berge Dadourian, Sean Ameli, Abraham Nagy, Brian Berelowitz, April Marquardt and Rama Harouni.

The doctors were unavailable for comment.

Dr. Robert Koblin, a California-based physician who was listed on the medical group’s website as its founder and CEO, was also unavailable.

Attempts to reach Dr. Marc Edelstein, a California-based physician identified in Secretary of State records as a managing officer of the group were unsuccessful.

Las Vegas physician Dr. Kurt Sowers, also listed in state records as a managing officer, says that what he did was only “temporary, for one week. I just wanted to see what it was like. I can’t talk about it.”

Never knew you could get a temp job as a managing officer.

Anyway, who among those physicians had the power, either individually or together, to close up a practice so quickly that the concerns of patients weren’t taken into account?

Cooper says his investigators will find out who knew what when.

It may sound strange, but former KE group patient Janet Frazier isn’t sure she cares who was behind the abrupt closure.

She just wants doctors to know that “it’s not OK,” “never OK,” to ignore their patients, to treat them as though they don’t matter.

Wanting to be fair, she did point out that some physicians apparently didn’t know about the closure either.

Even if that’s true, should they be given a pass on how patients were treated in the wake of the closure?

Keep in mind that when authorities notified the group that information should be placed on the website and phone message to help patients, Nichols, a financier, not a doctor, coordinated it.

He wrote in his release that he and the lender did so “in the absence of anyone else stepping up to do so.”

I wish I found that strange.

Contact reporter Paul Harasim at pharasim@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2908.

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