The barrage came after The Rome News-Tribune reported the opening of a criminal investigation into the dentist office located at 204 Redmond Road on Thursday.
Federal agents and Rome Police Department officials executed a search warrant on Thursday morning following complaints of improper use of restraints and improper or unnecessary performance of dental work on children.
Now, scores of parents are coming out of the woodwork with stories similar to those previously reported.
“I’ve been receiving a tremendous amount of calls from people who realized something happened or realize something may have happened (to their children) and didn’t know at the time,” said Det. Joe Costolnick.
But Costolnick said that while each and every report of alleged abuse is pertinent to the investigation, he said he doesn’t have the capability to listen to every account and conduct the investigation at the same time.
“We do want to hear the stories, but we are heavily bombarded right now,” he said, asking that locals have patience while the police department conducts the investigation.
Rather than calling with incident reports, Costolnick asks that parents download a form off the Rome News-Tribune website, fill it out and bring it to the Detectives Division located on the third floor of the Rome Police Department at 5 Government Plaza.
“If they could help us out by completing the form and returning it, that would be a more convenient way to get information in a timely manner,” he said.
No arrests have been made yet, but Costolnick said MCG Management Inc., doing business as Children’s Dentistry of Rome, is under criminal investigation.
The search warrant affidavit issued by the city of Rome listed more than 300 patients with Medicaid whose records are being thoroughly investigated.
The affidavit lists 11 reports of excessive dentistry work performed on 14 children that resulted in serious medical problems and trauma. Reports recounted that children left the office traumatized, scratched and bruised. The cases report children being tied down on papoose boards for unnecessary dental work.
When asked if he had an estimate as to how many children had possibly been affected, Costolnick sighed.
“I don’t know, I honestly can’t tell you,” he said. “A lot. A lot.”
Previously posted: Police search Rome dental office following accusations of improper restraining, treatment of children
Kelly Alford said her 10-year-old son’s mouth bled profusely for longer than 24 hours after he had four teeth unnecessarily pulled at Children’s Dentistry of Rome three years ago.
Her younger son, who was 9 at that time, was tied down as a dentist and dental hygienists pulled one of his teeth, she said. He fought them off and became so upset they abandoned further dentistry work on him, but moved on to his older brother.
“We went in for the average checkup,” she said. “They came out crying, and still to this day, they are terrified to go to the dentist. We went to the Emergency Room because his mouth was pouring blood.”
She said the dentist who pulled her son’s teeth refused to come to the hospital at the doctor’s request. A local dental surgeon had to stop the bleeding the next day. Now her children are so traumatized by the thought of dental work that her younger son had to be prescribed Valium so he would remain calm at his new dentist, she said.
Federal agents and Rome Police Department officials executed a search warrant on Thursday morning at Children’s Dentistry of Rome, 204 Redmond Road, following complaints of improper use of restraints and improper or unnecessary performance of dental work on children.
The office's Facebook page lists Maheshvar Patel as a doctor of dental surgery and David Shim as a doctor of dental medicine, as well as Christy McStotts and Robin Guice as dental hygienists.
Agents with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General and Rome Police Department investigators swarmed the dentist office early Thursday morning, seizing several crates and boxes packed with records. The agents were at the dental office early Thursday morning and did not leave until just after 2 p.m.
The purpose of the search was to obtain records that are “pertinent to an ongoing criminal investigation,” said Lt. Gary Clayton of the RPD Criminal Investigations Division.
Detective Joe Costolnick with the RPD said the entire business entity, MCG Management Inc., is under criminal investigation but no arrests have been made.
An ongoing investigation
The search warrant affidavit filed in Floyd County Superior Court lists more than 300 patients with Medicaid whose records are being thoroughly investigated.
According to the affidavit:
The investigation into Children’s Dentistry began in May of 2011 when Costolnick received a complaint from the mother of a 3-year-old girl who had allegedly received injuries during dental treatment. The child was tied down and had a mark on her neck that appeared to be a pinch mark. The woman said her daughter suffered extreme mental anguish during the visit to the dentist and urinated on herself, but the child was completely potty-trained.
It was then Costolnick discovered that several police reports had been filed alleging other incidents that date back to 2008.
Other reports recounted that children left the office traumatized, scratched and bruised. One child had marks on her wrists. In one account, a mother asked about the marks, and the office manager told her that McStotts and Guice had held her children down to finish X-rays.
The affidavit lists 11 reports of excessive dentistry work performed on 14 children that resulted in serious medical problems and trauma. The cases report children being tied down on papoose boards for unnecessary dental work.
In April of 2011, a 13-month-old girl was seen at Children’s Dentistry of Rome and received 12 fillings on eight teeth by Patel. Only 10 months later, the child received nine pulpotomies and stainless steel crowns, and eight fillings in five teeth. The same day, she suffered from a torn frenulum that was lying across her teeth. She was sent home without any pain medications or antibiotics.
The toddler was in extreme pain and wouldn’t eat. Her parents took her to the emergency room where the doctor told them she suffered from lacerated and infected gums. Her grandmother called the dentist office the next day, but they refused to accept responsibility, stating they had done everything correctly.
Less than a week later the child was seen by another doctor, Ferdinand Padilla, who discovered that her teeth had excessive cement on her gums, causing irritation, and that the crowns on her four front teeth had been improperly applied. Padilla had to pull her four front teeth and said that the excessive dental work done at Children’s Dentistry should have been done under general anesthesia at a hospital. In his opinion, the only reason they would have done it at the office on Redmond Road was because they do not have privileges at the hospital. Padilla said the child was extremely traumatized mentally and experienced physical pain.
In December of 2011 a 2-year-old female was taken to Children’s Dentistry for a check up, but Patel told her mother she needed 11 crowns and could do the procedures the next day, a Sunday.
That Sunday the child’s mother said she did not see or speak to the dentist while there, but according to the records, the child had 11 crowns applied in one hour.
The mother said they did not put her daughter to sleep during the procedure, but used nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and a numbing agent. The mother said her daughter screamed and cried so much that she went outside and sat in the car so she wouldn’t have to hear, but the dentist office was then locked so she couldn’t go back inside.
Following the procedure, the child could not eat and was running a fever constantly. Her mother called the dentist many times, and McStotts just advised her to give her child Tylenol or Motrin.
A week later the child’s face was so swollen her left eye was shut. Her mother took her to the ER and was told that if she hadn’t brought her daughter when she had, her face would have “popped open.” She was so infected and dehydrated she was admitted to the hospital for three days.
She was taken to Padilla, who had to pull several teeth and remove excess cement from the child’s gums.
Several of the reports indicated that follow-up appointments with other dentists revealed that most of the dental work was unnecessary. In one incident, a child supposedly received a pulpotomy from Patel, but the dentist found the nerves still present, indicating the procedure had never been done.
“I have probable cause to believe that Dr. Maheshvar Patel has violated O.C.G.A. Title 16, Section 16-5-70, Cruelty to Children,” Costolnick wrote in the affidavit. “I also have probable cause to believe that Christy McStotts, Robin Guice and Denise Carver, the owners of Children’s Dentistry of Rome, also violated O.C.G.A. Title 16, Section 16-5-70, Cruelty to Children. Furthermore, I have probable cause to believe that they have also violated O.C.G.A. 49-4-146.1 when thay accepted payment to which they were not entitled to.”
Seizure of documents
All Explanation of Benefits forms, invoices, letters to patients explaining their bills, letters from patients inquiring about bills for their care, and any related documents were sought Thursday, the affidavit reported.
Contracts between providers and MCG Management, Inc., doing business as Children’s Dentistry of Rome, were sought along with computer information regarding Medicaid billing and medical records.
Donald White, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, said it is their mission to make efficient use of federal taxpayer’s funds by eliminating as much as possible waste, fraud and abuse regarding Medicare and Medicaid.
Jim Shealy, a dentist at Children’s Dental Center P.C. in Rome stressed that his practice is in no way affiliated with Children’s Dentistry of Rome. A dental specialist, Shealy has been practicing for 15 years in Cartersville and recently opened his Rome office located at 15 Riverbend Drive.
He said that he, along with all the other dentists in his practice, are certified pediatric dentists, which means that after they graduated from dental school they attended school for two additional years to receive specialist degrees in pediatric dentistry.
He said the dentists at Children’s Dentistry of Rome are not specialists, which means they received a more general education in dentistry.
Dental specialists, Shealy said, are carefully trained on how to manage children appropriately and safely.
“There are a variety of behavior techniques we use,” he said. “That’s everything from the paintings on the wall in a friendly environment to an occasional hand-holding if necessary with parent permission.”
He said it is pertinent in his pediatric dentistry that parents are aware of what’s going on.
“If you’re in a dental office, you should always have access to your child,” Shealy said. “We do ask the parents that the children come back by themselves so we can establish communication. But in our offices, parents are always welcome to see where their child is… if they desire, they should be able to see their children.”
In cases where extreme dental work is necessary, children are sometimes restrained, but that is for the safety of the children and usually isn’t a barbaric practice.
“There are times when we’re rendering care that restraints are necessary,” he said. “But in our training as pediatric dentists, we’re trained to use those things appropriately to manage a child’s behavior to safely render treatment.”
There are firm guidelines by the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry that specialists like Shealy must follow, he said. In some cases with very young children who need extreme dental work, he said it’s humane to take them to the hospital where general anesthesia can be administered.
Many people are now coming forth with similar stories about Children’s Dentistry of Rome, and Alford said she wished all the other children who have been harmed could have been spared.
“I just wish something could have been done before now, that way, other children wouldn’t have been tormented,” she said. “It breaks my heart. And it puts real pediatric dentists down. Dentists like this, they’re just trying to make money.”
She said she believed Children’s Dentistry of Rome targets families who have Medicaid for financial gain.
“I feel like, the more teeth they pulled, the more money would be made. I just hope they get what’s coming to them.”
Click here to see a police press release about the search.