Haggard Questions Heart Procedure
Country music legend Merle Haggard believes he may have been one of the patients who received unnecessary procedures at a Redding, Calif., hospital, which was raided by FBI agents last week.Country music legend Merle Haggard believes he may have been one of the patients who received unnecessary procedures at a Redding, Calif., hospital, which was raided by FBI agents last week.
Federal authorities are investigating whether Dr. Chae Moon, director of cardiology at Redding Medical Center, and Dr. Fidel Realyvasquez Jr., chairman of the center's cardiac surgery program, ordered costly surgeries for healthy patients and then billed Medicare. The 238-bed facility is owned by Tenet Healthcare Corp. Neither of the physicians has been charged, and Tenet is not a target of the investigation.
Haggard, 65, who is scheduled to play Eureka, Calif., tonight (Nov. 6), returned home to Redding and found the town in an uproar over the allegations. The musician said he had a pair of heart stents put in by Moon and was suspicious of the operation at the time.
"I suspected when it was done to me that I didn't need" an operation, Haggard told the Los Angeles Times. "The whole thing has made me mad. I'm just waiting here for the FBI to contact me."
Haggard said he received an angioplasty procedure in 1995 in Nashville to open his clogged arteries. He was given a clean bill of health by doctors. He was surprised when he went to Redding Medical Center two years later and was told by Moon that his heart was failing.
Haggard said he had emergency surgery the same day he consulted with Moon but always felt something was amiss. "It just didn't hit me right," he said.
The musician said he again talked with Moon, who informed him he should be placed on blood-thinning medication and was a candidate for open-heart surgery in five years. Haggard declined to take the medication. "You have to wonder, did he tell me the truth at any time?" Haggard asked.
Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.