A Figure to Die For

Community Health Systems cashed in big on the stomach stapling rage. It almost cost Kaye Parsley her life.

Because Highland "did not have the proper facilities to take care of the patients post-operatively, I was forced to transfer them to the University Medical Center," he said. "After the patients were transported…I was cut off from their post-operative care, which I really wanted to be involved with, and I was kept in the blind as far as their treatment and recovery."

Kaye got her wish to live. And for all the wrong reasons, she even lost weight. She was so sick after her surgeries that she couldn't keep food down, so she shed 75 pounds in the first 30 days and is now down to around 220 pounds.

Despite CHS's assurances, Kaye Parsley almost died during surgery.
Despite CHS's assurances, Kaye Parsley almost died during surgery.
The gastric bypass creates a new, smaller stomach.
The gastric bypass creates a new, smaller stomach.

She still has a hole in her stomach that will take about a year to heal, according to her new doctor. She changes the gauze around the hole every day.

She's no longer in pain and eats three small meals a day. But her job future is uncertain. Since she had to take off so much time from work, the office she returned to no longer needed her. Kaye says her boss told her she is going to be transferred to a small branch office in a border town. She doesn't know if she wants to move her son hundreds of miles away from his grandparents. Meanwhile, she faces $300,000 in medical bills.

Kaye says COMPASS never offered her the counseling, pre- or post-op, which its Web site says is so important.

In the meantime, CHS has dropped Srungaram from its COMPASS program. He still practices privately, holds monthly seminars for bariatric candidates and maintains his Web site. It shows his smiling picture below photographs of a woman before and after bariatric surgery, holding a gigantic pair of pants in front of her now-slim frame.

And the revamped COMPASS Web site is still a destination for many desperate people turning to bariatric surgery as their last hope.

"More than likely you are on this site because you are searching for something, a weight loss solution," the site states. But Kaye, and many others, are beyond that now. They're just searching for the truth.

Her attorney, Richard Mithoff, believes the truth points to one simple, painful fact -- something that Kaye has to live with.

"It's clear that CHS was playing a numbers game," he says. "It appeared to be all about money."

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