Osteopathic physician and surgeon Kent Walker shut down his Pendleton practice Monday without notifying patients.
The door is locked and the lights off at the office at 202 S.E. Dorion Ave. Staff taped a message on Walker’s letterhead inside the glass front.
“It is with heavy hearts, the staff here at Pendleton Family Practice and Sports Medicine have to inform you of Dr. Walker’s decision to close his family practice immediately,” the messages states. “It is short notice for all of us, and we all know how slim the provider availability is in Pendleton.”
A call to the office received a similar response:
“If you have reached this messages, Dr. Walker has closed his family practice immediately. It is short notice for all of us.”
Both the phone and the paper notices let patients know how to request their medical records, and both thanked patients for their years of patronage. But no one is explaining what led to the closure.
Walker in early 2017 faced losing his Oregon medical license in the wake of an Oregon Medical Board review of his practice. According to the board’s order, Walker did not provide patients with risk notifications about medication he prescribed and he prescribed “controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose or without following accepted procedures for examination of patients or for record keeping.”
The order noted Walker’s patient charts created the impressions of thorough physical examinations, but in reality the chart notes were “a cut and paste from previous clinical encounters, casting the veracity of the notes into serious doubt.” Those charts also did not “adequately describe” Walker’s process for treating patients with chronic pain “with a long term regimen of opioid and benzodiazepines [drugs for anxiety and other conditions].” Among the litany of infractions, Walker also did not consistently use urine tests to verify if patients followed their treatment plan.
The board stopped shy of revoking Walker’s license to practice and placed him on probation for five years, which included limits on prescribing opioids and random audits of his practice. He also had to pay a $5,000 penalty.
Walker also is a defendant in the wrongful death lawsuit from the family of Scott Graber of Pendleton. Graber died July 8, 2015. He was 42. The lawsuit in Umatilla County Circuit Court accuses Walker of knowing Graber had a history of trouble with alcohol and narcotics yet prescribed opioids and muscle relaxants for him anyway.
The lawsuit alleges Graber visited Pendleton Family Practice and Sports Medicine the day before he died and showed up “visibly intoxicated,” and Walker gave him a prescription for hydrocodone/acetaminophen. Hours after filling the prescription, according to the pleading, Graber consumed alcohol and approximately 45 of the tablets and died from an overdose of both.
The lawsuit seeks about $1.8 million, including $1 million in non-economic damages for the loss Graber’s mother, Bonnie Rae Graber, has suffered. That case has a status check on Jan. 25.
Walker also practices at Sound Family Medicine clinics in Bonney Lake and Puyallup, Washington. Staff there reported he was seeing patients Friday. He did not return a call seeking comment. Walker is on probation in Washington, according to the Washington Department of Health, because of his discipline in Oregon.