Medical Director of Clinic That Treated Joan Rivers Out

A leading gastroenterologist at the clinic where Joan Rivers stopped breathing during a minor throat procedure last month is out as medical director of the facility, NBC 4 New York has confirmed.

Yorkville Endoscopy said that Lawrence Cohen, a board-certified gastroenterologist and associate clinical professor of medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital, was "not currently performing any procedures ... nor is he currently serving as medical director."

The 81-year-old Rivers went into cardiac arrest during a procedure at the 93rd Street facility Aug. 28, officials have said. The legendary comedian was put on life support and died a week later. The city medical examiner's office said an initial review of Rivers' case proved inconclusive, and further tests would be needed to determine Rivers' "cause and manner of death."

A spokesperson for Yorkville Endoscopy would not say if Cohen was Rivers' doctor, nor would the spokesperson say if he was performing the endoscopy on the day she stopped breathing. It wasn't clear if Cohen resigned or was fired. 

According to his online biography, Cohen’s primary research focus is gastrointestinal endoscopy and he lectures throughout the world on subjects ranging from colonoscopy and colorectal cancer screening to endoscopic sedation. An e-mail to his Mt. Sinai address bounced back, and the hospital could not immediately confirm if he still worked there.

A voice recording at New York Gastroenterology Associates on East 79th Street, where Cohen also worked, said he was no longer part of the team. A cellphone number for Cohen wasn't immediately available.

Yorkville Endoscopy is accredited by the the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities. The association said it was investigating the facility's accreditation.

The state health department has also said it's investigating the clinic, and is examining documents and medical records, observing the facility, and interviewing staff members and doctors to make sure the center is complying with state health regulations.  

Follow Pei-Sze Cheng on Twitter @PeiSzeCheng4NY

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