41 Action News obtained Mark Wisner’s first application for registration to be a physician assistant in the state of Kansas. It shows he was approved, even though he admitted to having a criminal record.
Wisner first applied in a letter dated February 14, 1992.
“I’m just disturbed,” said Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins. “I'm concerned the state didn't catch it and I'm concerned the second level of review at the VA, when they were hiring him, didn't have concerns about that, didn't raise that issue."
Congresswoman Jenkins wrote letters to the VA demanding answers, first in April, then again this week in conjunction with Congressman Kevin Yoder.
Jenkins said she hasn’t received much of a response.
“We’ve been very disappointed with the leadership we've had at the federal level. We asked for one secretary's head on a platter, got it, and the leadership hasn't changed enough for my liking,” she said.
As for the crime Wisner cited on his registration application, the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts cannot release those details.
Spokesperson Kathleen Lippert said via email, “Our current process provides that when an applicant answers “yes” to questions, we open an investigation to obtain additional information. Information contained within an investigation is not available for disclosure. This information may be available publicly from other sources.”
Last month, 41 Action News requested court documents that detail Wisner’s interview with a VA investigator. He admits to an arrest in California in 1987 that was of sexual nature.
Lippert said the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts has changed its protocol for physician assistants since Wisner was originally registered in 1992. Lippert said rules now are stricter, requirements are very different, and the board has tools to verify information it did not have in the 1990s.
Wisner is facing felony and misdemeanor charges in Leavenworth County and a growing number of federal lawsuits.
He’s in jail awaiting trial this fall.
U.S. Senator Jerry Moran, from Kansas, who sits on the VA committee issued a statement to 41 Action News:
“Individuals with a questionable past including criminal convictions should not be caring for our nation’s veterans. Veteran victims continue to come forward, and this latest development – that the physician assistant had a criminal past – is especially troubling as his crimes against veterans could have been prevented. I’m continuing to work with the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee to get answers about what the VA knew, when they knew it, and how to prevent this from happening again.”
41 Action News reached out to the VA for further comment, but a spokesperson said its original statement still stands.
VA is committed to providing our Veterans with the timely, high-quality care and services they have earned and deserve. Please know that we take all allegations of misconduct seriously and our first priority is the safety of our patients and staff.
In regard to your request for information about the status of the investigations surrounding Mr. Wisner, due to the ongoing legal status of the cases in which suit has been filed in Federal district court, VA cannot comment on the specifics of any of the pending cases. Further inquiries regarding the ongoing litigation should be directed to the Department of Justice’s Public Relations office in Washington, DC. While we cannot publicly discuss pending cases, we take very seriously the safety and well-being of every single Veteran patient. Upon specific accusations of inappropriate activity being brought to the attention of executive leadership at the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System, the former employee, Mark Wisner, was removed from patient care and an investigation was swiftly initiated.
As we previously communicated to you, other Congressional members, and the media, upon accusations of inappropriate activity being brought to the attention of executive leadership at the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System, Mr. Wisner was removed from patient care and an investigation was swiftly initiated. Before the investigation was complete, Mr. Wisner left VA and also surrendered his medical license to the Kansas Board of Healing Arts. Following the full investigation, criminal charges were officially filed against Mr. Wisner. Leavenworth VAMC, in coordination with VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), launched a notification campaign and sent letters, with a dedicated hotline number, to Veteran patients formally under Mr. Wisner’s care. This process was established to ensure open communication with Veteran patients and their family members, answer their questions, and offer clinical and administrative support and resources from Leavenworth VAMC. Again, we cannot publicly discuss pending cases, and further inquiries about this case should be directed to the Department of Justice Public Relations office at (202) 616-2777.
In regard to background investigations and credentialing, all VA employees are required to undergo a background investigation commensurate with their position’s risk level. Mr. Wisner underwent the requisite level of investigation. Subsequent investigations are not required on positions designated at the Low Risk level, but an updated National Criminal History Check is submitted upon issuance and renewal of VA-issued personal identification verification cards.
Additionally, as with all Physician Assistants, Mr. Wisner was initially credentialed and then re-credentialed every two years in accordance with VHA Handbook, 1100.19, Credentialing and Privileging. The credentialing process includes an exhaustive primary source verification of training, education, past work history, licensure/certification, and references. Providers are also enrolled in the National Practitioner Data Bank’s (NPDB) Continuous Query program, where VHA would receive an immediate alert if any entity reported the provider to NPDB for any reason. In Mr. Wisner’s case, there were no reports or disclosures from these sources that would have indicated a potential problem.
Lexi Sutter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.