Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D.
Wellness Clinic of Roland
205 East Ray Fine Blvd. P.O. Box 961
Roland, OK 74954
918-398-9434 918-398-0637 Fax
September 19, 2006
Senator Tom Coburn, M.D.
State of Oklahoma
1800 South Baltimore
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74119
Dear Senator Coburn:
I am writing to you to request your assistance in a problem that has affected the lives of hundreds of your voting citizens.
As I am sure you are aware, there is a great difficulty for patients that suffer from chronic intractable pain to find physicians that are willing to treat them for such pain without fear of suffering repercussions from the DEA and/or State Medical Boards.
All of this came to light approximately four years ago when Dr. Terry Brackman, D.O. had both his medical license and DEA license revoked for treating patients that suffered from chronic intractable pain. This is when I initially entered the picture. I have been a medical missionary serving the poor in the Mississippi Delta for almost my entire medical career. I saw a need and the Lord led me to this calling. When I heard about the suffering that was being experienced in Fort Smith, Arkansas with thousands of patients having no physician to treat their suffering, I again answered the Lord’s call and ran to help those that needed me. I would practice all week in Mississippi and then drive all night to get to Fort Smith so that I could help those patients that no longer had a physician they could rely on.
I helped organize a group of citizens that soon spread state-wide. It took us three years but we succeeded in getting a law passed in the State of Arkansas, The Intractable Pain Treatment Act. This protected both the physician and the patient and allowed the physician to properly treat patients that suffer from chronic intractable pain. Soon, Dr. Brackman had his license returned to him and he began again to care for his patients. I returned to Mississippi to care for mine.
Recently, I was informed of another crisis in the Fort Smith area. Dr. Richard Dodson had committed suicide and his patients now had no where to go. The other physicians in the area, which seem to now be only one or two, could not fit all of Dr. Dodson’s patients into their practices as they were full. I, once again, had to do some soul searching. I prayed about it. I knew that, once again, I was being called to serve those in need. I discussed it with my wife and children and they did not hesitate to agree. People needed help. That is what we do. That is why I am here. That is why I became a physician. I could not let these patients down.
Then came all the leg work. I agreed to provide medical care in a clinic that was operated by several board members of the American Pain Institute. My main concern in practicing medicine in the area again was to follow the letter of the law. I have always believed in being in compliance and doing the right thing. I believe in what I do and I stand up for what I believe in. I first had to decide where to practice medicine. Of course, money is always a factor when you are a medical missionary. The spaces that were available in Fort Smith, Arkansas were far too expensive for a part-time practice. Since we are a border town, we decided to look in neighboring towns for a more reasonably priced location. We finally found an ideal spot in Roland, Okalahoma. Since our patients come from both Arkansas and Okalahoma we found it would be not only more affordable for us but also more convenient for our patients.
After finding our location, we immediately began the paperwork and applications needed to bring the new clinic up to compliance. I first had to have my Oklahoma Medical License renewed. I also had to renew my Okalahoma Bureau of Narcotics license. We also, contacted the DEA in Oklahoma City to inquire as to whether or not we needed a new DEA number, as I have a current DEA number that is registered in the State of Mississippi. We were told that we would not need an additional Oklahoma DEA number unless we were planning to store, dispense, or receive controlled medications within our clinic. We informed the OK DEA that we would not be doing any of the above, that our patients would be seen, given a written prescription and that they would then take those to their pharmacy for filling. We were then assured that we were in compliance and we set out to begin to help the hundreds of patients that so desperately needed care.
I first obtained my Oklahoma Medical License years ago when my aunt became ill while she lived in Ardmore, Oklahoma. My mother is from Okmulgee, Oklahoma and my father is from Ardmore. It has always been my dream to return to my family’s Oklahoma roots to practice medicine. This unfortunate situation gave me that opportunity. My family in Oklahoma supports what I am doing in Roland.
Since I am a practicing physician from Mississippi, I arranged for these new patients to be seen in my “off time” on the weekends. Myself and my family would load up when I got off work on Fridays and drive the five hours up to Roland and I would immediately begin seeing patients late into the night and then all weekend. It was what needed to be done. I believe that all patients have the right to quality medical care without fear and threats. I have fought for patient rights for many years and it seems that once again I am forced to fight for the rights of my current patients at my part time clinic in Roland, Okalahoma.
Last week on Wednesday, two DEA agents, one named Thomas J. Tonkin, came to my office accusing me of not having an appropriate DEA registration for my part time medical practice in Roland, Oklahoma. I informed Mr. Tonkin that he was incorrect and that my DEA registration was appropriate. He continued to argue with me and told me to get an application submitted for an Oklahoma DEA number and then left our clinic after informing us that two local pharmacies had been told not to fill any prescriptions written from our clinic. He named the pharmacies as Walgreen’s and Andersons Discount Pharmacy, both located in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
I, immediately had my office manager place a conference call to the DEA office in Washington, DC to clarify our actions. Our first conference call was with Miss Silvia. She informed us that we were in compliance since we were not storing, dispensing, or receiving controlled medications within our clinic. Upon completion of our phone call we decided to confirm this information so we again placed a conference call to the DEA in Washington. DC. This time we spoke with a Miss Gray. She stated the exact same information as Miss Silvia had states previously. We were in compliance with the federal laws and guidelines.
Knowing factually that we were in the right, we carried on as normal. We continued to see and treat our patients over the weekend. By Monday morning we began receiving terrifying calls from our patients stating that their pharmacies were refusing to fill their medications and that they did not know what to do. I immediately put my small staff on alert and instructed them to help these patients. There was no other mission more important than caring for my patients. They were to work night and day if that is what it was going to take. My staff immediately began phoning pharmacies and our local DEA offices to try and rectify this serious and life threatening situation.
Soon three of our local pharmacies were so concerned about the welfare of the patients that, they too, began to call both the Arkansas and Oklahoma DEA offices to see what could be done to fix this problem in the quickest manner so the patients would not be forced into medication withdrawal. The pharmacists were getting the same mis-information that we were getting. One person would say we needed a separate Oklahoma DEA number and another person from the “SAME” office would state that we did not need a separate number.
Out of concern to help my patients as quickly as possible, we tried relentlessly to establish contact with our local Oklahoma DEA office in Tulsa as we were instructed to do, all to no avail. They would not return our calls and did not seem concerned about the welfare of my patients.
I paid $390.00 and applied online for a new DEA number for the State of Oklahoma last night, even though I have a valid DEA registration in the state of Mississippi. This morning, I again put my staff on the case. They had a copy of my application, letters from three local pharmacies and all my current medical documentation. I sent copies of my medical license, my DEA license and Oklahoma OBN license.
My office manager was driving these items to Tulsa to help expedite things. I was informed on line last night that the process of receiving my new Oklahoma DEA number would take between four and six weeks to arrive and be effective. On her way to Tulsa she called the DEA office to get directions to their office. Her call was routed to Mr. Tonkin, the same gentleman that was in our office last Wednesday. He informed her to turn her car around as there was no need for her to come up there. She told him that we had filed the application as he had requested. She also told him that we had some letters that we would like to share with him. She also said that she was prepared to “beg” him for some mercy, as we needed to get this application expedited as our patients could not survive without their medications. She told him that she was terrified that these patients would be forced into medication withdrawal and would possibly become suicidal. This is what we had dealt with years earlier when Dr. Brackman lost his license and DEA license and his patients were not being helped. Several of his patients committed suicide.
Mr. Tonkin did not seem to care much about the welfare of my patients. Instead he grilled my staff about their personal information. He asked both my office manager and my file clerk for their names, dates of birth, social security numbers and their home addresses. Why???? I have no answer to that one. Perhaps intimidation. Who knows. Before hanging up, my office manager again stated that she wanted to meet with Mr. Tonkin and bring him the information. He again told her to turn around and go home. She then asked him “what should I tell our patients?” to which he replied “Madam, I don’t know what to tell you.” She then stated, “the application stated that it would take four to six weeks to process and our patients can not wait that long.” His reply was “the application will take the normal time and will be processed normally.” He hung up.
While my staff turned their car around and headed back towards Roland, I got in contact with Senator Coburn’s office and spoke with Joanie Williams. She also confirmed that she had called the DEA in Washington, DC and was told that our Roland clinic did not need a new Oklahoma DEA number and that we were in compliance. Thank God for Senator Coburn and his staff. They too are in the fight for justice and the lives our my patients. However, without something from the DEA “in writing” no local pharmacy will fill my prescriptions as the pharmacists are in fear of repercussions on themselves and their businesses.
So, we are now at a loss. Our clinic became a clinic out of necessity. I became an Oklahoma physician out of necessity. Our patients need help and it seems that no one think they have value and rights. From day one, we have tried to follow the letter of the law. We did what we were told to do. We are not the ones that are being hurt by these careless actions. It is our patients, their family members and their community that are being affected. As a medical missionary, I cannot stand idly by and watch those that the Lord has trusted me to care for, suffer and potentially end their lives, due to misinformation.
I beg that you help us find the truth and right this terrible injustice to these innocent patients. They have no where else to turn. They deserve a “QUALITY OF LIFE”. I think it is our obligation to ensure that they have their right to that “QUALITY OF LIFE”.
I thank you for your time and attention into this very important medical crisis. There is no time to wait. These patients are suffering and need IMMEDIATE help!!! I am enclosing the above mentioned letters from our local pharmacists with this letter so that you will see the enormity of this crisis and the desperate need for an immediate solution.
Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D.
Encl: Letters from area pharmacists (3)