- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 24, 2015

DANIELS, W.Va. (AP) - A judge has granted the state’s request to shutter a chronic pain clinic in Raleigh County as part of a crackdown on clinics that don’t comply with new licensing requirements.

Circuit Judge Robert A. Burnside ordered the immediate closure Monday of Coal County Clinic operated by Dr. Michael Kostenko. The clinic was seeing about 600 patients a month, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail (https://bit.ly/1PLLw2y).

Inspections with the state Department of Health and Human Resources have closed 13 pain clinics over the past year. The closures came after the agency started enforcing new laws that aim to curb widespread prescription drug abuse in West Virginia.

State inspectors have cited Kostenko and Coal Country Clinic for failing to keep adequate medical records on patients. The osteopathic physician also lacked state-mandated education and training to operate a pain clinic in West Virginia, DHHR said.

“We are thankful for Judge Burnside’s decision,” said DHHR Secretary Karen Bowling. “Our job is to protect the people of our state and ensure that safeguards are in place for appropriate prescribing of pain medications.”

All of Coal Country Clinic’s patients were receiving prescriptions for narcotic painkillers, according to state Board of Pharmacy reports.

Kostenko has argued that his practice doesn’t have to be licensed as a pain clinic because the majority of his patients suffer from a “progressive disease that is expected to shorten life,” according to a letter sent to DHHR’s Office of Health Facility Licensure.

“Our practice is for community and public health and the treatment of disease,” Kostenko wrote.

The law requires clinics to be licensed, provided more than half of patients are being treated for chronic pain unrelated to cancer or another terminal disease.

Tim Bailey has been a patient at the Raleigh County clinic for the past 15 years. Kostenko, he said, is a “good doctor” who never prescribes more pain medication than his patients need.

“Someone’s got to help people like me,” Bailey said. “We can’t just go around living in agony. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.


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