BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVNS)– The Beckley Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) is under fire after an internal review revealed patients could be possibly exposed to HIV and Hepatitis by a physician performing unlicensed acupuncture therapy.
Officials said a former doctor at the VA, Jonathan Yates, was allegedly performing acupuncture on patients when he was employed there. Yates is currently serving a jail sentence for sexually assaulting patients at the Beckley VA. An internal review revealed more than 300 patients were possibly exposed to HIV and Hepatitis.
Mary Riley, Chief Communications Officer for the Veteran Integrated Network, sent a statement to 59 News. Read it below:
Although trained, Dr. Yates was not credentialed to perform acupuncture. Upon notification, our leadership swiftly identified all potential patients who may have been affected and coordinated a plan to ensure they received appropriate follow-up care. We also initiated an immediate internal review. The internal review comprised of five registered nurses who reviewed 100% of the physician’s patient encounters from May 2018 to February 2019 for evidence of needle acupuncture, dry needling, or auricular acupuncture, and identified 372 potential patients in the possible exposure group. Since we cannot validate if proper sterilization techniques were followed, out of an abundance of caution, we are offering testing to all patients who received acupuncture. Although infection risk to patients is very low, we are contacting all patients and are offering blood-borne pathogen testing for all patients who were treated by this physician. Additionally, a full review of all infection control practices has been performed and a fully qualified acupuncturist is now employed at the facility. We extend our deepest apologies to all affected patients and assure you that we are doing everything we can to correct this issue.”Mary Riley, Chief Communications Officer
Dr. Johnathan Yates is serving 300 months in prison. It will be followed by three years of supervised release.
Stephen New, an attorney with New, Taylor & Associates, is representing approximately three dozen patients. New said if a patient thinks they’ve been exposed, to get tested.
“Go to the health department, have blood work done. I would say first and foremost my advice is to follow the medical advice and get blood work done, get checked out soon because it’s going to be a long process,” New said.
Officials with the VA said if a patient has questions or concerns, they may call 304-255-2121, option 3 to discuss this issue further with their staff.