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December 6, 2012

Board votes to suspend Jeffersonville doctor’s license

Attorney says city will notify Clark County Wellness Center it must close

JEFFERSONVILLE — The Indiana Medical Licensing Board voted to suspend the license of a doctor at a Jeffersonville pain medication clinic after a petition was filed citing unsafe prescribing practices and the city intends to shut it down.

On Monday, Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office filed the petition to suspend the license of Dr. Lea Marlow, who works at the Clark County Wellness Center. During a hearing in Indianapolis on Thursday, the board voted to suspend Marlow’s license until the next hearing set for Jan. 24, according to a press release from the Attorney General’s Office. During that time, the office will work on drafting a formal licensing complaint. Once a complaint is filed, the board has the authority to determine what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken.

The city intends to notify Clark County Wellness that it must close, according to Les Merkley, city attorney.

“If they are not closed in 15 days, the city will file suit asking the court to shut them down,” Merkley said via text message. “They are no longer a legal, nonconforming use under our zoning code. We believe the license suspension means they are no longer grandfathered [in] under the zoning code.”

In the wake of the pain management moving into Jeffersonville, the city put a moratorium on allowing any new clinics to locate in the city while they drafted a law that would limit where a pain management clinic could locate. Merkley previously said that Clark County Wellness was not subject to the new restrictions and was allowed to operate in its current location under a grandfather clause. He added that as long as the clinic stays open continuously, the new restrictions passed will have no affect on the business. However, if the business halts operations or closes its doors the restrictions would apply, he said.

“The action taken by the board to suspend Dr. Marlow’s license helps ensure patients are protected while our office drafts a formal licensing complaint,” said Gabrielle Owens, deputy director of the Attorney General’s Licensing Enforcement and Homeowner Protection Unit, in the news release. “This physician’s prescribing practices are well outside the boundaries of what is considered safe and appropriate.”

Since January, Marlow has prescribed more than 8,000 prescriptions for 3,489 patients — with more than 95 percent receiving oxycodone. Owens said virtually all Marlow’s patients receive identical treatment in the form of oxycodone and diazepam prescriptions, the release says. According to the petition, the doctor does not accept payment from private insurance companies or government entitlement programs and instead operates as a “cash-only” business.

In February, Marlow worked for Central Kentucky Bariatric and Pain Management, owned by Will Singleton. In July, Kentucky’s new regulations regarding pain clinics went into effect requiring any pain clinic be owned and operated by a board certified, licensed physician. According to the petition, the clinic then opened as the Clark County Wellness Center in Indiana and Marlow began prescribing there in August.

Calls to Singleton seeking comment have not been returned.

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Amy Harpenau is the new director of theater arts at New Albany High School. Harpenau is a 2007 graduate of Floyd Central High School, has appeared on stage at both high schools and worked in theaters since she graduated college.

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