This report begins in a small Appalachian town in the hill country of East Tennessee; Bristol. Many call this community the birthplace of country music. It also boasts of a very modest but proud NASCAR track. This community is not wealthy by the standards of Westchester County, Marin County or Beverly Hills. Its wealth is in its people, traditions and strength of community. Folks have lived together as friends and family for generations. Success is more often measured in terms of spiritual values and connections with neighbors, than numbers in bank accounts. It’s a place where people trust and rely on family and neighbors. It’s a community where doctors still hold an esteemed position.
This may not be a town which “sophisticated” people on the East or West Coasts can relate to. In fact, they may use demeaning terms like “hillbillies” or “rednecks”, to dismiss these hardworking Americans. However, most of America absolutely respects people and towns like Bristol, Tennessee. That’s definitely true for most Texans, who hold similar values.
A doctor allegedly betrayed the trust of Bristol, TN, back in 2013. This dentist took the money from many patients of very modest financial means, most often for lay-away and payment plan dentures. Then he simply locked the doors to his clinic, and left the state. Unlike the Texas Alamo hero, Davy Crockett also from East Tennessee, Dr. Hardev A. Patel had a different spin on the phrase, “You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas”.
In January 2014, over 100 people filled the Bristol Tennessee General Session Court Room, to discuss the closure of Dr. Patel’s dental clinic and loss of their very hard-earned money. By then, Dr. Hardev Patel had already voluntarily retired his Tennessee dental license and relocated, and allegedly retired to Texas. But, was Dr. Patel truly retired from dentistry? The Tennessee Board of Dentistry listed no disciplinary actions against his license. In effect, weren’t they opting for a geographical solution to abuses on the public interest? Dr. Patel now potentially became the problem of Texas.
Dr. Hardev A. Patel earlier obtained a Texas dental license on 12-06-2013. All the while, multiple reports were in the public domain on his alleged abuses to the people of Bristol, TN. As of this report, the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE) has no public advisories relating to Dr. Patel. Any computer search engine will quickly arrive at numbers of highly disturbing stories concerning Dr. Patel. Any reasonable due diligence background check by the TSBDE on Dr. Patel would have raised a serious alert.
Today, Dr. Hardev A. Patel is publicly listed as a dentist provider at San Filipe Dental Health Center, in Del Rio, TX. Working for this non-profit clinic requires Dr. Patel be credentialed in Texas, as a Medicaid provider. He must pass background checks by this non-profit organization, as well as the Texas Department of Health Services.
Are authorities in Texas all asleep at the wheel, or is there a massive corrupt cover-up in play? Regardless, this isn’t the first cluster-f’ed dental rodeo for Governor Greg Abbott. We all recall the recent debacle and closure of Austin Cosmetic Dentistry, and unlicensed practice of dentistry by an unlicensed manager. We recall the corrupt oversight of dental Medicaid mismanaged by Xerox (ACS) for years. We also remember the troubling oversight efforts by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission relating to dental Medicaid abuses and fraud.
There’s a clear pattern of misconduct from Texas state authorities relating to dental healthcare. Former state attorney general and today, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is leader of the pack. It’s well past time to stop focusing on the myriad of smaller ethical and criminal breaches, from low level political hacks. The top dog needs to be held to account.