2 patients’ cash goes missing after visit to metro doctor’s office on same day

SHAWNEE, Kan. -- When you go in for a medical exam, you can't always keep your purse or wallet by your side. So what happens if your wallet vanishes? Is the doctor's office to blame?

That's the fight two metro patients are now facing.

When you're at the doctor's office, if someone tells you to do something like take off your shoes, you usually do it. After all, they have your best interest at heart, right? Not necessarily.

"He said take everything out of your pockets and billfold and lay it over here on the table," Bill Belt said.

Belt had never had to empty his pockets for an EKG before, but he did what he was told.

Bill Belt

"I didn't feel good about leaving my billfold on the table," he said. "But I am in an exam room in a a doctor's office, and that's the safest place you can be."

Or so he thought -- until the next day when he went to the bank to get change for one of the 10 $100 bills he had in his wallet.

"I reached into there for a $100 bill, and they were all gone," Belt said.

The 81-year-old widower knew the only time his wallet had been out of his sight was at his cardiologist's office at Shawnee Mission Medical Center, so he contacted them.

That news wasn't good. This happened before -- that same day with the same temporary employee.

"I thought, 'Why was he still there? Why was he still there?'" Belt said.

It was Mildred Teel's wallet that was stolen hours earlier at the same doctor's office, and the same employee was assisting her.

Mildred Teel

The employee told her to set purse on the table as she stepped on the scale. When she stepped off the scale and picked up her purse, it was noticeably lighter.

"I'm looking in it, and my billfold's gone. My billfold's gone," she said.

No one found it until the next day in another building on the same medical campus.

"It was in the bottom of a trash can," she said.

Her credit cards were still in the wallet, but her money was missing. Luckily it wasn't a lot of cash -- less than $15.

Both cases were reported to police, who interviewed the employee. He denied stealing anything. In fact, he said he couldn't even remember giving Belt an EKG, though the doctor's office confirmed to police that he did.

Since there were no witnesses, the employee was never charged with a crime and police closed both cases.

Teel never asked to be reimbursed for her missing money, but Belt, who had been a patient at the doctor's office for 30 years has repeatedly asked for his money back.

"It's kind of upsetting to me due to the fact they didn't care," he said.

Shawnee Mission Medical Building

That's why he called the FOX4 Problem Solvers, wanting to warn others that even at a doctor's office you could become the victim of a crime.

FOX4 call the doctor's office, which referred us to the public relations department of Shawnee Mission Medical Center, who said the employee no longer works for them.

"In thisĀ alleged incident that occurred last year, our security team worked with the Merriam Police Department to address a potential criminal matter," a spokesperson said. "No charges were filed. We welcome the opportunity for continued dialogue."

Belt said every effort he's made to "continue the dialogue" has been dismissed.

So should he just give up on ever getting his money back?

"I would agree if it was an isolated incident, but as I understand it, there was another patient," metro attorney Brad Bradshaw said. "So you have two people who don`t know each other reporting the same thing, and they actually found her wallet in a dumpster nearby."

"This is an intentional act of theft on their premises," he said.

Bill Belt

Bradshaw said the medical clinic should reimburse Belt for his missing money because it's ultimately responsible for the actions of the people it employs.

"If I have a paralegal -- worse yet a temporary paralegal -- steal something of value from my client, I think I'm responsible for making that right," he said.

The metro attorney said Belt could take the doctor to small claims court or, as a last resort, file a complaint with the state medical board.

In the meantime, Belt has found a new cardiologist and no longer carries large amounts of cash in his wallet.

He said the biggest loss isn't the money but his sense of security every time he visits a doctor.