By Joe Boyle
A group of parents have filed a lawsuit against the estate of an Evergreen Park pediatrician who apparently did not inform them that their children were not receiving vaccinations.
Dr. Van E. Koinis, 58, whose office was at 3830 W. 95th St., was found dead last September in a Cook County Forest Preserve in Palos Township from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He had been reporting missing last August and police had been investigating his whereabouts.
Koinis had been a longtime fixture in Evergreen Park and was popular with families who brought their children to him for pediatric care and vaccinations. Many parents were saddened about reports of his death. But they were later stunned when staff from the Cook County Sheriff's Department said that Koinis left a suicide note that raised concerns about how he was maintaining records pertaining to vaccinations at his office.
Police questioned the accuracy of the records kept by Koinis regarding the vaccinations of children. The sheriff's office said that on several occasions the doctor did not provide vaccinations for children who were requested to receive them by their parents.
Parents have reported to the sheriff's department that results were often different among their children. In some cases, some children in the same family received vaccinations while others did not.
A former Chicago Ridge resident whose two children were under the care of Koinis was one of a group of parents who have been notified through attorney Jim Rollins about the lawsuit that was filed June 22.
She said that her sister had brought her children for pediatric care to Koinis and decided to do the same due to what she believed was his stellar reputation.
"There was no question that I was going to go to him," the mother said. "He was highly regarded. But after this happened, I had my oldest daughter, who is 3 years old, checked and I found that she did not receive any vaccinations. But my younger daughter, who just turned 2, received all her vaccinations. I don't know what to make of it. I guess he was just covering his tracks by doing some while not doing others."
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said that Koinis, who had been known for homeopathic remedies, had developed a reputation of appealing to some parents who were opposed to vaccinations. The police and sheriff's department have been investigating if Koinis, who had practiced pediatric medicine since 1991, had been forging records and falsely claimed that children had received immunizations that are required by Illinois schools.
"He was incredibly regretful for what he did and it was the only thing he mentioned in the suicide note," Dart said.
Dart was also concerned that children whose parents weren’t opposed to vaccines may not have been immunized.
The sheriff’s department have not released the letter that was found near Koinis. A revolver was also found near his body.
The former Chicago Ridge resident said that she was not aware of Koinis' reputation about homeopathic treatments and said he never discussed the subject with her.
"Now my oldest daughter had to go through all these vaccinations that she should have received when she was younger," the mother said. "We have another doctor now but this has been rough. I feel for my daughter."