UPDATE: Whistleblowing doctor at VA dies in crash

HOLLY RAMER/AP file photo/ Dr. William "Ed" Kois, who filed a whistleblower complaint alleging substandard care at the Manchester, New Hampshire, VA Medical Center, died following a car crash Tuesday, July 23, on Interstate 95 in Hampton, N.H. 

HAMPTON, N.H. — A Newburyport doctor who acted as a whistleblower about substandard care at New Hampshire's veterans medical center died Tuesday night in a single-car crash on Interstate 95.

Dr. William "Ed" Kois, 62, was heading south in Hampton, New Hampshire, just before 4:30 p.m., when his 2013 Porsche Cayenne left the road and continued along the center median for about 40 yards before striking a guardrail near the Hampton/Hampton Falls line, state police said. 

After the crash, Kois was transported to Portsmouth Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. State police said they believe a medical problem led to the crash. 

Kois, who had been head of the Manchester Veterans Administration Medical Center’s spinal cord clinic since 2012, led the charge by 11 physicians who brought whistleblower concerns against the VA to federal authorities.

In what resulted in a two-year fight, Kois claimed that nearly 100 veterans have become disabled and paralyzed because of substandard care and neglect at the medical center. He said in many cases, surgery could have prevented crippling conditions that ultimately affected patients. The whistleblowers described a fly-infested operating room, surgical instruments that weren't always sterilized, and patients whose conditions were ignored or weren't treated properly. 

In response to Kois' whistleblowing actions, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin announced in January 2018 that he would invest $30 million in the Manchester VA Medical Center to improve patient care. Shulkin also called for a national search to replace three hospital administrators. 

In a 2017 interview, Kois said he hoped Shulkin would help bring an end to a “bureaucratic nightmare” that is a “systemic problem” throughout the VA.

Kois had hopes of bringing a full-service hospital to the Manchester, New Hampshire, area.

On Tuesday night, Alfred A Montoya Jr., director for the Manchester VA Medical Center, announced Kois' death on the medical center's Facebook page.

"It is with a heavy heart that Manchester VAMC shares the passing of William E. Kois, MD. Dr. Kois was a key member of the Manchester VAMC family, and his dedication to the patients was an integral part of our success," Montoya wrote in the post. 

"Dr. Kois improved care for Veterans through his advocacy, collaboration and innovation," he continued. "He was incredibly passionate about the care he provided to our Nation’s heroes and he will truly be missed. Our thoughts are with Dr. Kois’ family during this difficult time."

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, said Kois' "compassion and conscience compelled him to raise awareness of unacceptable conditions at the Manchester VA, which continues to drive important changes to the delivery of care in Manchester."

Fellow whistleblower Dr. Stewart Levenson told WMUR-TV that whenever they had problems, either as whistleblowers or running the clinic, Kois would quote what his father used to tell him: "Don't worry, we'll figure this out."

Material from the Associated Press was used in this story by staff writer Jack Shea, who may be reached at 978-961-3154 or jshea@salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.

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