Roland Doctor Observes Pain Patients Advocacy Week
America's In Pain!" - Remembering The Marches In Washington"
The week of April 23-29 is observed as Pain Patients Advocacy Week
. Those honoring the week locally include (L-R)
Michael Mullins, Dr. Ronald Myers, Mary Rhodes, Kenicha Lowrimore, Josh Merrill, Mary Branham, Dr. Benard Tou-
gas, Debra Cox, and Trish Posey.
(photo by Anny Sivilay)
Chronic pain is real, according to many doctors and Americans, and it affects millions of adults in this country. The week
of April 23-29 is observed as Pain Patients Advocacy Week. A week to remember and honor the anniversary of the April 30,
2004 marches on Washington, “America’s in Pain!” and “Silent No More!” and the life and pain patient advocacy of Siobhan
Reynolds, founder and president of Pain Relief Network, who died on Dec. 24, 2011 in a plane crash.
Reynolds came to be an advocate for pain patients through personal tragedy when her husband, a chronic pain patient, died
while the family moved cross-country seeking effective relief for him, according to StoptheDrugWar.org.
A June 2011 report by the Institute of Medicine states, "Chronic pain affects about 100 million American adults – more than
the total affected by heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined. Pain also costs the nation up to $635 billion each year
in medical treatment and lost productivity."
According to an article on Time.com (Report: Chronic, Undertreated Pain Affects 116 Million Americans), "Rising rates of
prescription drug misuse, addiction and overdose have further led to the establishment of legal and regulatory barriers,
such as prescription database, that can prevent even legitimate pain patients from getting much-needed drugs."
Roland’s very own Dr. Ronald Myers of the Wellness Clinic of Roland, founder and chairman of the American Pain Institute,
organized a coalition of chronic pain patients, doctors and advocates in 2003 to pass the Arkansas Chronic Pain Treatment
Act through public marches and rallies at the state capitol in Little Rock. Myers organized the two successful marches on Washington, “America’s in Pain!” and “Silent No More!” demanding congressional hearings on the pain crisis in America.
Myers stated that Arkansas is the worst state in the country to be in pain and Oklahoma is not far behind.
In Oklahoma, with the new federal regulations, Medicaid patients can only be prescribed "scheduled drugs” by a Medicaid
doctor, stated Myers.
"Why are you changing the healthcare system and telling pain patients they have to see Medicaid doctor when you know full
well there’s no Medicaid doctors,” Myers said. “Fortunately, we have one here and can write for Oklahoma.”
On July 28, 2011 a protest rally was held at the Wellness Clinic of Roland parking lot because Gov. Mary Fallin refused to
waive the new federal regulations that would allow Oklahoma patients on Medicaid to get their pain prescriptions filled.
"A state medical board member stated that all chronic pain patients in Arkansas are either drug addicts or selling their
medicines. So that has a chilling affect on the doctor. Now I have to go before the state medical board because I’m treating
her (referring to a patient) with narcotic pain medicine because basically when you’re in chronic pain the only thing we can
offer you medically are narcotics because narcotics are the best medication. There aren’t side effects associated with drugs
like Tylenol and Motrin," said Myers. “Over 10,000 people a year dies from complications with non-steroidals. If I have to
go before the state medical board and members have that kind of attitude, of course I’m afraid I’m going to lose my license."
Myers stated that because of these new healthcare regulations doctors are refusing to treat their pain patients that they
have treated for years with scheduled drugs because they are afraid to lose their license.
"They’ve had a number of situations where doctors in Arkansas and Oklahoma have been shut down because of the fact that
they're treating patients with chronic pain with narcotics,” said Myers. “Your doctor (referring to himself) is one of the
top 10 prescribers of scheduled drugs in Arkansas and Oklahoma. The Senate Judiciary Committee is going after me because I
write a high number of medications. Nobody asks, “How many patients does that doctor have?” They will find out that we write
more scheduled drugs in this clinic than any clinic in three states. Why? Because we are the only one that has the courage
and the moral fortitude to treat pain patients.”
Myers says that he treats about 3,000 patients from both Oklahoma and Arkansas, and because of the new regulations he gets
patients in his clinic in tears with letters from their doctors that states that they refuse to treat them. Myers credits
his faith and spiritual convictions in providing him the courage to help pain patients because he was a reverend before he
became a doctor.
One of Dr. Myers patients, Mary Rhodes, 61, of Van Buren, Ark. suffers from chronic pain as a result of a domestic incident.
Rhodes states that she went two years without treatment waiting for her Medicare to go into effect and heard about Dr. Myers
"They (doctors), for some reason, think you're not in the pain you are. There’s days I can't walk. There’s day I feel like
I’m going to be in a wheelchair and they don’t want to help give me any relief at all,” said Rhodes. “And thank goodness we
got a doctor here that wants to help us, and we need to reach out and get all of us together and advocate for him.”
Rhodes said that she is completely disabled and have difficulty walking some days, and would cry because she is so depressed.
Janice Phillips of Sequoyah County, another patient of Dr. Myers, suffers from chronic pain as a result of being hit by a
drunk driver while she was on her horse back in 2003. Phillips states that she suffers from TMJ, neck and back pain, and
like Rhodes, she has days when it is difficult to walk and get out of bed.
"It hurts to go grocery shopping," said Phillips. "People take it granted."
Phillips is unable to work because of her pain. Prior to the accident she was studying to be a science teacher but due to
financial and physical circumstances she chose to be a stay-at-home mom.
Phillips stated that because she is uninsured and suffers from chronic pain, finding a doctor that will treat her is
"I want someone who will care about how pain affects my life, and help me through medicine and therapy," said Phillips.
Phillips has an 11-year-old son and says that she wishes she could do more with him but her pain prevents her.
The new changes to the health care system regarding pain patients getting their medication went into effect in July 2011,
according to Myers.
Myers is also the founder of The Myers Foundation for Indigent Health Care and Community Development, in 2000 he founded the
Washington Juneteenth National Holiday Observance, and in 2010, the National Day of Reconciliation and Healing from the
Legacy of Enslavement.