- Reuters/Regis Duvignau
- Officials in Cook County, Chicago, are investigating whether a beloved pediatrician lied about vaccinating children and falsified records for the last 10 years of his medical career.
- A suicide note left by 58-year-old Van Koinis prompted this probe, Sheriff Tom Dart said. Koinis was found dead from a single gunshot wound last September.
- “The note was very short,” Dart said. “It was a note where he expressed a lot of regret and the note was solely driven at the fact that he did things he regretted as far as the vaccinations.”
- This recent discovery throws in question whether Koinis was fabricating records for anti-vaxxers to be able to send their children to school. It also raises the possibility of him disregarding the parents’ wishes, if they did want their children immunized, though there isn’t evidence to support this, Dart said.
- Parents who brought their children to Koinis are encouraged to have their kids undergo blood tests that can help identify some vaccinations, but not all. They may need their current pediatricians to administer those vaccinations again.
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A popular Chicago pediatrician went missing last August. The next month, he was found dead from a single gunshot wound.
Now, a “cryptic” suicide note has revealed that Van Koinis took his own life but also cast doubt over his medical track record, the Washington Post reported.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office reported on Tuesday that it is investigating whether Koinis lied about vaccinating children and fabricated medical records.
“It started off as a straightforward investigation of a missing person that led to a case of suicide, and then from there we came across a suicide note,” Sheriff Tom Dart said to the Chicago Tribune. “In the note, it referenced concerning things in regards to the doctor’s practice and his possible motivation as to why he killed himself.”
Koinis expressed an aversion to immunization for the last roughly 10 years of his career, Dart told CBS Chicago. But, in the last moments of his life, he apparently questioned whether it’d been smart to rebel against common medical knowledge.
Dart said: “The note was very short. It was a note where he expressed a lot regret and the note was solely driven at the fact that he did things he regretted as far as the vaccinations.”
“He was incredibly regretful for what he did and it was the only thing he mentioned in the suicide note. It was this and only this”.
‘Omnipresent sense of guilt’
It remains unknown what prompted Koinis to reverse his stance, but Dart told Fox 32 Chicago, that Koinis was “very despondent in his last communications with people” and felt an “omnipresent sense of guilt.”
“There seems to be an overarching depression that was driven by years of not vaccinating people properly. We were not able to nail it down any further,” Dart told CBS Chicago. “That was the sole reason he gave for this.”
Koinis, 58, earned his license to practice medicine in Illinois in 1991, The Post reported. As a proponent of homeopathic treatment and holistic healing techniques, Koinis was also well-known among parents who are opposed to administering vaccinations to their children, the Tribune said.
Speaking to the Chicago-Sun Times, Dart said, “The biggest issue is parents who are under the impression their children are immunized when they are not.”
That raises the question of whether Koinis faked immunization records mandated by Illinois schools.
“Our thinking is that would mean that people who came there came with a purpose to get records phonied up, not have to take the vaccine and take the records to a school that would allow their child to be admitted even though their child never had a vaccine,” Dart told CBS Chicago.
It also makes uncertain whether children whose parents are not anti-vaxxers were given the necessary vaccinations, although the note doesn’t specifically say that he defied parents’ requests. There also isn’t evidence to suggest this, Dart said to the Tribune. However, parents have been asked to seek help from their current pediatricians to determine if their children have been appropriately immunized. Titer tests might come in handy in helping to trace some vaccinations, but not all.
‘I was there. I saw it.’
In a post about vaccination records and what to do if they’re missing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people who cannot verify their vaccine records get the vaccines again. “While this is not ideal, it is safe to repeat vaccines. The doctor can also sometimes do blood tests to see if you are immune to certain vaccine-preventable diseases.”
According to Patch.com, concerned parents posted messages on Facebook after Koinis died, saying they were unable to get copies of their children’s medical and immunization records. The Post said Koinis, who practiced alone, left documents in a mess and investigators couldn’t determine what vaccines had been given to which patients.
On Zocdoc, Koinis had amassed five stars from nearly 1,230 glowing reviews. After news of his death broke, former patients wrote on Facebook that he was like a member of their family and would be terribly missed.
Despite the emergence of this disconcerting news on Tuesday, some parents are standing by him, saying he never expressed anxiety about immunizations to them, The Post said.
Beata Przeradzki told the Tribune that she is not worried because she witnessed first-hand when Koinis vaccinated her children.
“I’m the mother,” she said. “I was there. I saw it.”
Dart did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
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