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Hilo dentist shuts down as complaints grow to 12

By Susan Essoyan

LAST UPDATED: 2:26 p.m. HST, Apr 11, 2014

Dr. John D. Stover, a dentist and surgeon who now has 12 complaints pending against him with the state, has told colleagues that he will stop working at the close of business Friday.

"Today is his last day of work," a Hilo dentist who had referred patients to him for oral surgery told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Friday morning on condition of anonymity.  "We did confirm that."

Anguished friends and relatives of Kristen Tavares had picketed Stover's office in Hilo, asking the state to shut it down, saying she had plunged into a coma while having her wisdom teeth extracted by him on March 17. She was flown to Maui Memorial Medical Center, where she remained unresponsive. A mother of two, she turned 24 in the hospital.

Stover did not respond to calls and an email from the Star-Advertiser and his attorney, Arthur Roeca, said he had no comment.

The Hawaii Dental Association noted that Stover was not a member of its association and lamented the fact that he set up practice in Hawaii.

"It's a shame this person was allowed to practice dentistry in Hawaii," Dr. Lili Horton, president of Hawaii Dental Association, said in a written statement regarding Stover in response to an inquiry from the Star-Advertiser. "Over our objections, the Legislature created a loophole in 2005 that allowed several dentists to come to Hawaii and set up a practice, without going through a rigorous exam. Stover was one of those dentists."

"Dr. Lilly L. Geyer (nee Tsou) whose patient, three-year-old Finley Puleo Boyle, died after suffering massive brain damage while in Geyer's care was another. Neither of these dentists were members of the Hawaii Dental Association, which represents 92 percent of all Hawaii dentists. Our association encourages elected officials and regulatory agencies to protect the public's health by ensuring only highly qualified dentists are allowed to practice in Hawaii."

Stover was licensed as a medical doctor in Hawaii in 2001 and as a dentist in 2005. He was among 87 dentists licensed in Hawaii by regional exam or credential during a transition period after the Hawaii Board of Dental Examiners stopped administering its own test and before it began requiring dentists to pass a national exam. He had previously practiced as a surgeon and dentist in Louisiana.

His business, known as Cosmetic Centers of Hawaii, has offices in Hilo, Kona and Waimea. He specializes in oral and facial surgery, and is certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, among others.

He has no disciplinary history in that state and those licenses remain active, according to the Louisiana dental and medical boards.

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs website shows that Stover had seven complaints filed against him this year as a doctor and dentist, most after the Tavares case was publicized. Three complaints were lodged last year. In 2012, two complaints were filed. All 12 complaints are still pending and under investigation, and no details are available from the department. Another complaint filed against him in 2010 was closed the following year for insufficient evidence.


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