Pubdate: Wed, 26 Jun 2002
Source: Daily Independent, The (KY)
Copyright: 2002 The Daily Independent, Inc.


South Shore Not Hardly Alone in Dealing With Doctors Who Act More Like Pushers

South Shore's problem with medical doctors, who act more like drug
pushers than healers of the sick, is not unique to the small Greenup
County town. It's just that because of the town's small size, the
problem is more noticeable in South Shore than in many larger cities.

Because unscrupulous doctors overprescribing prescription drugs to
addicted walk-in patients is a national problem, ridding South Shore
of the problem is going to have to be part of a larger regional and
national enforcement effort. As South Shore knows all too well,
doctors who are removed for overprescribing medicines are soon
replaced by other physicians who are far more interested in making a
quick buck than in helping people who are addicted.

In the past two years, at least six doctors who, at one time or
another, have practiced medicine in South Shore have been arrested or
had their licenses suspended by the state Board of Medical Licensure.

The patients such doctors attract are causing other problems in the
small town. Cora Webb - an employee of Family Doctor Store located
next to Plaza Healthcare, a walk-in medical office where at least
three doctors have been arrested in the past two years - said her
biggest problem is theft.  She also said she has witnessed people
doing drugs in the parking lot.

Tammy Warnock, a teller at First & People's Bank, said she regularly
declines cashing out-of-town checks from those she suspects need cash
to pay for the doctors and medicines. South Shore Pharmacy has been
the target of repeated break-in attempts in recent years.

What can the town do to fight this problem? While residents vented
their frustrations at a recent meeting of the South Shore City
Commission, the South Shore police department lacks both the numbers
and the expertise to make much of a dent in the problem. The town
doesn't even have enough officers to offer 24-hour patrols.

Russell Mayor Don Fraley, who oversees outreach centers for King's
Daughters Medical Center and sits on the FIVCO Area Drug Enforcement
task force, said there are organizations that pick out doctors and
pharmacists to run operations like the one in South Shore. When one
doctors is arrested or suspended, another quickly is sent in as a

"The problem isn't South Shore .. it's a network," Fraley said.

He's right. Having six doctors either arrested or removed in less than
two years for overprescribing medicines certainly is a lot for such a
small town.

But it is also a clear indication that one's medical career in South
Shore may be quite lucrative for a short time, but it is likely to end
with either a prison term or the inability to practice medicine.

When unscrupulous doctors figure out that doing business in South
Shore is not worth the risk, the problem will quickly subside in the
small town.
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