Former Midlands, South Carolina physician Kim Hawkes became a household name in the Palmetto State last year as the woman at the center of the “Blonde Doc” saga – a health care soap opera which captivated local audiences (and ultimately resulted in her temporarily losing her medical license).
Now Hawkes is living in Idaho … and working for a medical provider headquartered just across the border in Spokane, Washington. Prior to procuring this new position, Hawkes controversially received a “clean bill of health” from South Carolina medical regulators.
The last time we did a checkup on this story, Hawkes had voluntarily surrendered her license to practice medicine in South Carolina to the state’s Board of Medical Examiners, a division of the S.C. Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation (SCLLR).
Earlier this year, though, the board reinstated Hawkes – claiming she had met “the requirements to return to the practice of medicine.”
Take a look …
(Click to view)
Of interest? Hawkes’ reinstatement order was issued even though she remains under investigation by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC).
“The investigation (of Hawkes) is still ongoing,” SCDHEC bureau of drug control agent Bryce A. Stafford wrote in an email (.jpg) to one of the Blonde Doc’s alleged victims. “Due to the sheer volume of documents, witnesses and parties involved, the investigation has run on a lengthier timeline.”
Stafford added the investigation was “nearing its close,” though, and that SCDHEC “may be able to provide information relatively soon.”
For those of you who missed this rollercoaster ride, Hawkes caused a social media stir shortly before Christmas of 2021 when she publicly accused her estranged husband, John Hawkes – a deputy with the Richland County sheriff’s department – of domestic abuse. John Hawkes was ultimately cleared by the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) in connection with the allegations leveled against him by his estranged wife.
Soon, scrutiny began following Hawkes – who acknowledged some questionable conduct in a voluntary statement (.jpg) provided to investigators last November.
Specifically, she admitted accepting “prescription medication from patients” and “violating HIPPA (sic) without realizing it” – referring to confidentiality provisions contained in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (a.k.a. HIPAA).
In acknowledging her conduct, Hawkes noted she needed to set “much stronger boundaries with all of my patients.”
“(I) cannot allow friendships to get in the way,” she wrote. “Emotions get involved, and things get really messy really quickly.”
One example of the mess?
“She used and abused me mentally, emotionally, financially, sexually,” one of the Blonde Doc’s alleged victims said during an exclusive interview with this news outlet in January 2022.
Hawkes holed up in Missoula, Montana with her lover – former Lexington, S.C. police officer Brandon Hassler – in the immediate aftermath of the scandal. Since then, she has found employment with the Community Health Association of Spokane (CHAS) – a regional medical provider.
Hawkes is a women’s health practitioner at CHAS’ Latah Community Health center in Moscow, Idaho – a town of approximately 25,000 located approximately 70 miles south of Spokane.
“Kim is from a quaint small town in South Carolina, where she finished both medical school and training,” her new biography noted. “She had a chance to move to the Pacific Northwest, a place she always wanted to live in. Kim loves the people and the environment there a lot. She’s going to live in Pullman with her future husband and two dogs.”
Had a chance to move?
To be clear: I’m a firm believer in second chances. During her tenure in South Carolina, Kim Hawkes had plenty of patients who swore by her – and all indications are she was a good doctor prior to her unraveling. Having said that, she’s admitted to some incredibly questionable conduct – and been accused of even worse violations. At the very least, the medical board should have probably withheld its reinstatement of her license until after the conclusion of SCDHEC’s investigation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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