UPDATE: Big Island dentist's offices may be closing following complaints

Complaints against Big Island dentist grows to 12
Published: Apr. 14, 2014 at 3:29 PM HST
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Dr. John Stover
Dr. John Stover

HILO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - [Update 4/11/14]

Dr. John Stover's offices appear to be closing.  The sign was taken down Friday morning at his Kona office on Mamalahoa Highway.  And we were told that he was not returning to the property.

The sign reads 'closed' at his Hilo office on Kinoole Street, but his name is still posted outside.

And we did not get an answer at his Waimea office.

But his website is still up and running and does not mention any closings.

Family and friends of former patients hope the offices stay closed.

[Original story]

 The State is now investigating 12 formal complaints against Dr. John Stover. Two of the cases we uncovered involving disabled veteran Curtis Wagasky, 52, who died just days after going in to have one tooth pulled in December 2012 and Kristen Tavares, the 24 year old mother of two remains in the coma she fell into while getting her wisdom teeth pulled last month.

When we started reporting on dentist and cosmetic surgeon Dr. John Stover four weeks ago there were two pending investigations. Now there are a dozen. We've spoken with eight more patients who say they also plan to file a complaint.

"We're in the hospital," says Tanya Hegarty, in a video taken from March 2011.

"Why?" says Shaylene Hegarty, who is sedated and lying in the hospital bed.

"To recover, we just came from Dr. Stover's," responded Tanya Hegarty, Shaylene's mom.

Shaylene Hegarty, was 15 at the time that video was taken. She had all four of her wisdom teeth pulled. Her mother says she was so overly medicated they rushed her to the emergency room after the procedure where it took five hours to regain consciousness.

"That experience I will never forget for my life. It was the scariest moment I've ever had to see my child go through and I couldn't do nothing for her," said Tanya Hegarty, Shaylene's mom.

Hegarty says she went back to Dr. Stover's Hilo office the next day and to get an explanation.

"His manners, his beside manners is just unreal. I've never experienced a doctor with no compassion, non-apologetic," said Hegarty. "It angers me that I didn't do anything back then. I should have."

Rosaline Cortez says Dr. Stover traumatized her. She went in to have a cyst removed, but eight years later she says her mouth still hasn't healed.

"As he was proceeding I was screaming at him that I could feel everything. He proceeded to cut and kept telling me, 'to grow up and take it. I'm a big girl and I can deal with this.' His nurses cannot even stay in the room. They were leaving the room because of it," said Rosaline, Cortez, former Dr. Stover patient. "He pulled out the cyst and he was cauterizing as well and I could feel it, every piece of it. I was begging him to use something for the pain. I will pay him even. He held me down and kept going for it."

We first covered the Kristen Tavares case on December 19. Her family says Dr. Stover extracted her wisdom teeth, but there were complications. She has been in a coma and on life support ever since. Dr. Stover's patient right before Tavares was also having complications with a bone fragment that was left behind in her mouth, according to her father.

"It was bothering her quite a bit. She couldn't take it and she was playing with the piece of bone and she pulled it out," said Steve Pfister, father of patient. "I think he has to go somewhere else to practice because a lot of people in Hawaii, we hear the story and we're not going to go to him."

Despite allegations Dr. Stover was involved in the death of Wagasky, the coma of Tavares and a dozen other formal complaints, all three of his offices remain open for business.

Investigators have interviewed former employees of Dr. Stover, including those who were working in the office the day of Wagasky's complications and other professionals on the Big Island. Concerned lawmakers have said they want investigation results within a month. The State says that's not likely to happen.

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