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This story first appeared in the Sept. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
How could an otherwise healthy — sprightly, even — 81-year-old woman walk into a clinic for a routine endoscopy and end up dead? Officials for the New York State Department of Health and previously the NYPD (its investigation has now ceased) are looking to answer that question, investigating the Yorkville Endoscopy clinic where Joan Rivers had vocal-cord surgery Aug. 28 — and ended up having a heart attack on the operating table, falling into a coma for a week, then dying Sept. 4.
No accusations of wrongdoing have been filed against the clinic, which opened in 2013, and initial reports confirm the midtown facility was fully equipped for the procedure. But Rivers’ fans have begun to reach their own conclusions: Yorkville is being besieged on social media, with damning one-star reviews on Yelp and with even more damning comments on the clinic’s website (“You killed Dot Matrix!” says one, alluding to Rivers’ role in 1987’s Spaceballs).
More seriously, there have been death threats, reportedly leading to the clinic hiring extra security and limiting its business hours. Although no lawsuits have been filed, reports say Melissa Rivers had begun considering one before her mother’s death (damages could be in the millions of dollars because of Rivers’ earning potential). One possible point of controversy: The anesthetic Rivers was administered might have been Propofol, the drug that killed Michael Jackson.
Sep. 10, 1:01 p.m. Updated noting the end of the NYPD investigation.
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