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Media Campaign Launched By State to Combat Drug Addiction and Overdose

Saturday, January 10, 2015


The RI Departments of Health, Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, and Anchor Recovery Community Center announced a new campaign Friday aimed at getting assistance to Rhode Islanders addicted to drugs and alcohol.

The “Addiction is a Disease. Recovery is Possible.” media campaign was launched at an event at Anchor Recovery on Monday morning. Research indicated that the most effective way to reach out to people with active addiction is to share stories from fellow Rhode Islanders who have experienced successful, long-term recovery.

The campaign features eight local men and women who share their personal stories of addiction and recovery. The campaign is featured on bus advertising, posters in a variety of venues in the community, TV and radio ads, and a website, http://www.recover.ri.gov, which includes video testimonials from participants in the campaign.

In 2014, there were 232 apparent accidental drug overdose deaths in RI.

“Our goal is to share stories that provide hope and inspiration to our siblings, parents, children, and friends who are suffering the effects of addiction,” said Director of Health, Michael Fine, MD. “With 232 apparent drug overdose deaths in 2014, these campaign messages come none too soon. We want people to know that there is help and there are people who are successful in long-term recovery.”

 “As it is with any chronic disease, recovery and support are essential to conquering substance use disorders,” said Jim Gillen, Director of Recovery Services at the Providence Center / Anchor Recovery Community Center.  “Every day at Anchor we see people living rewarding and fulfilling lives in recovery. People struggling with addiction—either in their own lives or the life of someone they love—need to know there is help and there is hope.”

“The people who have come forward today and who will be seen all across the state in this multi-media campaign have extraordinary courage on several levels,”  Linda Mahoney, BHDDH Administrator added. “They had the courage to seek recovery--and they have the courage to go public with their stories.  This will save lives because what they are saying is 'I was sick, but now I'm well again but there's still work to do.’” 

A final component of the campaign targets law enforcement and first responders with training and printed materials about how to administer Narcan (an overdose antidote) and how to make referrals to treatment and recovery.

In 2014, there were 232 apparent accidental drug overdose deaths. Of those, 208 (90%) of the 231 screened cases involved at least one opioid drug and/or opioid medication.  83 (37%) of the 225 screened cases involved fentanyl.

These apparent accidental drug overdose deaths were among people who appeared to be using in 31 different cities and towns in Rhode Island, affecting men and women of all ages and ethnicities, and four towns in Massachusetts:

- 65 men and 67 women ranging in age from 20 to 72;
- 43 people in their twenties, 64 people in their thirties, 61 people in their forties, 53 people in their fifties, and 11 people in their sixties and seventies;
- 205 people were white, 26 were black, and 1 was Asian.


Related Slideshow: Rhode Island Doctors Behaving Badly

Check out more Rhode Island healthcare professionals behaving in ways that have required suspension and other disciplinary actions from HEALTH. 

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B&E / Holding Marijuana

Roy M. Main, MD

The Rhode Island Department of Health suspended Dr. Main from practicing medicine in the State of Rhode Island indefinitely after breaking into a residence without permission at 3 in the morning and being in possession of marijuana.

Roy M. Main, MD, a physician licensed in the state of RI but with offices in Mystic, Connecticut, entered the home in Westerly, according to documents filed with HEALTH, on August 10 between 3 and 4 in the morning, calling out for a friend named Bill (whose house he thought he was in). The home's owner awoke, subdued Main and held him until police arrived.

Main was arrested for felony breaking and entering. He told police he mistakenly believed he had entered the home of a friend who'd instructed him "to enter a side door of that house." Main entered the wrong house, though, through its garage entrance "because it had no side door."

According to HEALTH, Westerly police found two bags containing about six grams of marijuana in Main's vehicle, which smelled of marijuana smoke.

To read more, go here. 

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Drug disappearance

The Rhode Island Department of Health  suspended the license of a certified nursing assistant at the Charlesgate Nursing Home in August, following an incident involving missing drugs.

Erin Jeannine Blanchette, NA/MAD, allowed "one Joshua Roberts, whom the respondent had personally known and is alleged to have been involved in a relationship with" in a secured area with a secured medicine cart.

Staff at the Charlesgate Nursing Center reported a large quantity of narcotics missing to the Providence Police the same day. Upon investigation, Blanchette was "observed by the Providence Police to be incoherent and under the influence of narcotics."


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EMT sexual harrassment

A Coventry EMT was suspended in July 2013 for sexual misconduct toward a fellow EMT, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH).

Randy Crowe was accused by a younger female coworker to have asked her to come inside a rescue truck at the Western Coventry Fire Department's Summit fire station so "he could practice placing ECG leads on her under the guise of teaching her how to do so properly."

According to documents filed with HEALTH, Crowe "placed two leads on her hips and collar bone [EMTs traditionally place four lines of their ECG marine on the wrists and ankles]." While placing the leads on her hips, Crowe pulled her pants down, according to the complaint. Further, "the Complainant also alleges that [Crowe] brushed her chest, told her to 'keep smiling' and pulled her face close to his in 'almost a kissing motion.'"

When the Complainant jumped off the vehicle and walked outside to her car, she alleges that Crowe "followed her, hugged her and kissed her on the side of the head."

HEALTH has suspended the EMT license of Randy Crowe indefinitely pending further order.

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Over-prescribing meds

Chepachet-based physician Clayton Lanphear, III, DO, who had prescribed extremely high doses of Vicodin HP and Vicodin ES, as well as Percocet, without properly monitoring his patients' health, has had his license to practice medicine suspended by the RI Department of Health (HEALTH) in July 2013.

HEALTH also called Lanphear's medical records "often illegible and lack the minimum requirements of a bone fide medical record" in accordance with Board regulations and minimum standard of acceptable practice.

A review of Lanphear's prescriptions by HEALTH revealed three occasions of prescribing dangerous levels of the medications. His license is suspended until further review. 

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Dentist Violations

A Warwick dental practice was closed by the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH), and two of its dentists cited for a number of violations regarding the storage and handling of controlled substances, according to HEALTH.

Frank Paletta, MD, DMD, and Mohammed Banki, MD, DMD, were both named by HEALTH as associated with practicing at 243 Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick.

According to HEALTH, dental inspectors learned that Dr. Banki used medications that were misbranded, did not check medications in syringes that were administered to patients intravenously, and left controlled substances in an unlocked cabinet, among other violations.

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Morphine for babies

Pharmacist Leo Blais, RPH

Rhode Island pharmacist Leo Blais, RPH, was suspended in March 2013 for 2 years for dangerous and lax practices, including improper labeling and storage of medications that led to including morphine in omeprazole prescriptions for an infant and a toddler. Blais is also a former RI State Senator. 

After the RI Department of Health announced the suspension, HEALTH director Michael Fine, MD,  asked for the terms of the suspension to be reviewed. 

UPDATE: Blais' license was revoked June, 2013.

To read more, go here. 

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Dirty conditions

Pharmacist Richard Mancini, RPH

Warwick pharmacist had his license suspended for a variety of unclean practices in January 2013.

Richard Mancini, RPH, the pharmacist-in-charge of Pharmerica, located at 83 Vermont Avenue in Warwick, was found to have allowed unlicensed individuals to practice as pharmacy technicians and engage in the compounding of sterile pharmaceutical compounds. 

To read more, go here. 

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Malpractice in ER

Rita S. Kurl, MD

Rita S. Kurl, MD, was found guilty of unprofessional conduct arising from a malpractice litigation settlement, after having inserted a gastronomy tube improperly into a nursing home patient's abdomen, who later died as a result. Dr. Kurl's malpractice verdict was announced in December 2012.

Doctor Kurl, whose specialty is internal medicine, was involved in a case at Our Lady of Fatima Hospital emergency department on March 23, 2008. 


To read more, go here.

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Malpractice in ER, II

Joseph P. Turner, DO

The East Greenwich internal medicine physician was named guilty of malpractice after having underestimated the severity of a patient's condition who later died. His verdict was announced in December 2012.

Doctor Turner was the attending physician at Our Lady of Fatima Hospital in Providence on March 23, 2009, when a 56 year old male patient arrived, complaining of severe lower abdominal pain of "ten on a scale of ten." The patient had undergone elective gallbladder removal a week earlier on March 16. 

To read more, go here.

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Sexual fondling

Nursing Assistant Nathaniel Rodrigues

The nursing assistant at Rhode Island Hospital was suspended indefinitely in December 2012 after having sexually assaulted a female patient.

Nathaniel Rodrigues was employed as a Nursing Assistant at Rhode Island Hospital on September 24, 2012, when he assaulted a female patient by "digitally penetrating her vagina and sexually fondling her," according to HEALTH.

To read more, go here.

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Meningitis contamination

Nurse Practitioner Gerald Dornhecker

The nurse practitioner at Skin Essentials Spa in North Providence, RI, was suspended in December 2012 for violations concerning pharmacy items that were recalled because of potential contamination with fungal meningitis.

Dornhecker told investigators that the facility did not have any potentially infected pharmaceutical product, but then reversed his story when recalled lots of the pharmaceutical were discovered on the premises. 

To read more, go here.

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Breaking suspension

Frederick Lury, DMD

The Warwick dentist who had been suspended from practicing dentistry for controlled substances violations was caught continuing to practice in November 2012. 

Frederick Lury, DMD was already suspended from practice when a female patient says that Lury saw her on November 1, 2012, for a filling, and she returned to his office on November 10 with a complaint of jaw pain. Lury examined her tooth and took an x-ray. Lury wrote a referral slip in her presence and she made another appointment for the week of November 26. The patient says she witnessed other patients and dental hygienists in Lury's office on or about November 10.

To read more, go here.

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Bogus medical marijuana

Tom Folcarelli + Maria Petrucci/11th State Consultations

A Providence company that had been providing customers with medical marijuana authorization was ordered to cease and desist operations as they are not licensed to do so, in November 2012.

11th State Consultations, LTD, located at 400 Reservoir Avenue in Providence, was operated by Tom Folcarelli and Maria Petrucci was ordered to "cease marketing and providing patient consultations and assessment services to the public for the purpose of providing medical authorizations for medical marijuana," according to HEALTH.

To read more, go here.

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Controlled drugs for wife

Arnold Rosenbaum, MD

The Rhode Island physician was suspended in November 2012 for prescribing controlled substances after prescribing those very medications to his wife that didn't meet standards. 

Arnold Rosenbaum, MD, had already come to attention of the Rhode Island's Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline for doing the same thing in 2008, at which time he promised to stop prescribing his wife controlled substances and that she would be treated by another physician.

To read more, go here.

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Dangerous prescriptions

Psychiatrist Thomas Paolino, MD

The East Greenwich psychiatrist was suspended in October 2012 from prescribing controlled substances after it was discovered that he had prescribed benzodiazepine to a methadone user, a potentially dangerous combination.

HEALTH also found a pattern of "inadequate medical records" for four other patients, revealing "no evidence of diagnoses; undocumented controlled substance prescriptions; inadequate monitoring of controlled substance prescribing, prescription of controlled substances in a pattern that lack coordinated care with methadone clinics," and more violations. 

To read more, go here.

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Meds in sandwich bags

Pharmacist Christopher Rizzo, RPH, pharmacy technicians Roger Normand Croteau and Angelina Chanthearun Chea

Smithfield's Millennium Pharmacy pharmacy and three of its employees were suspended for numerous violations, including packing prescription medications in sandwich bags, in October 2012.

A series of violations were cited, including Rizzo being seen by an eyewitness hiding or conspiring to hide "suspected misbranded medications" prior to the arrival of Inspectors at the pharmacy.

To read more, go here.

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Vicodin for family

Lisa Noyes-Duguay, MD

The Rhode Island physician was suspended from prescribing controlled substances after it was found that she had been improperly prescribing drugs for family members, including Vicodin and Klonopin.

Lisa Noyes-Duguay, MD, initially told investigators from the RI Department of Health's Board of Licensure and Discipline that she had never prescribed controlled substances for any family members. When asked again if she had ever prescribed Vicodin, Klonopin, Buprenorphine products or Hycodan syrup to a family member, she said she done so on two occasions. She then added that she had prescribed Suboxone to one family member twice about a year earlier.

To read more, go here.

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Fondling elderly patient

Stephen R. Pezzullo, MD

The Rhode Island physician was suspended in August 2012 by the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline for fondling a then-70-year-old patient.

According to the patient's written complaint, Dr. Pezzullo asked her to lie down and then he "started to examine my breast over and over" and "started to move his hands lower and lower pulling my slacks down as he moved toward my private (area)." While this allegedly was occurring, the patent stated she put pressure on her pants to stop Dr. Pezzullo from lowering her pants any farther, then he left the room.

To read more, go here.

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OB-Gyn's opiates for men

Jorge Ruelos, MD

The Rhode Island OB/Gyn was suspended from prescribing controlled substances in July 2012 after having prescribed large amounts of opiates… to men.

Jorge Ruelos, MD, was found by the Board of Pharmacy to have been prescribing high-dose pain management medication to multiple male patients, "despite a specialty in obstetrics/gynecology."

To read more, go here.

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Taking kickbacks

Physician's assistant Michael J. Cobb

The Rhode Island physician's assistant had his license suspended in May 2012 for receiving payment in exchange for recommending a certain brand of bone stimulators prescribed by surgeons with whom he worked.

Michael J. Cobb engaged in unprofessional conduct by violating Federal Anti-Kickback laws. Cobb, who worked as a physician assistant to two surgeons in Rhode Island (not named in documents provided by HEALTH), had duties that "permitted him to choose which type of post-surgical bone stimulator would be prescribed for the patient," according to HEALTH. Cobb was "receiving kickbacks from one bone stimulator manufacturer from 2004-2011."

To read more, go here.

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Erratic and distracted

Marvin S. Kerzner, MD

Marvin S. Kerzner, MD was suspended from his internal medicine practice for erratic and distracted behavior as well as failing to respond to complaints with the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline, in May 2012. 

Dr. Kerzner, who was then 81 years old and whose principal place of business is Summit Medical Group at 154 Waterman Street in Providence, was under investigation by the Board after the Physician Health Committee (PHC) of the Rhode Island Medical Society expressed concerns about the "status of [Dr. Kerzner's] clinical competency." According to documents filed with HEALTH, "another physician expressed concerns to the PHC after two of his patients told him of problems. Specifically, the concern expressed was that the Respondent seemed 'erratic and distracted.'"

To read more, go here.

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Nurse overprescribing

Psychiatric nurse Lisa Marenaro

A psychiatric clinical nurse was suspended by the Rhode Island Board of Pharmacy in May 2012 for prescribing high dosages of generic Adderall, Ritalin, and Xanax without proper documentation.

Based on a complaint from the Director of the Town of Coventry's Department of Human Services, the Board reviewed five of Lisa Marenaro's patients Among the findings: one patient was prescribed a 180-day supply of Amphetamine Salts (generic Adderall) in 75 days, at 90 mg/day. According to the HEALTH, the usual dose is 40mg/day, and "there was no explanation in the records to explain the prescription of a dose approximately two and one-half times higher than the usual amount."  Another patient was prescribed three times the recommended amount of the same substance.

To read more, go here.

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Prescription fraud

Edward L. Cullen, MD

Cranston-based physician Edward L. Cullen, MD, was suspended from practice by the Rhode Island Board of Pharmacy in May 2012 for prescribing OxyContin and Vicodin for people who were not his patients, among other violations.

To read more, go here.


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