Bill McDonald has worried about his health since a state medical board suspended the license of his physician, Paul Gosselin, of Waterville.

McDonald, 49, of Benton, has bipolar disorder and anxiety, and in a few days his prescriptions will run out.

He went to the emergency departments at both MaineGeneral Health and Inland Hospital in Waterville and was told they do not fill prescriptions. He also searched for a new doctor, but every office he called was booked until October or November.

“What do you do with 1,400 patients who now don’t have a doctor?” McDonald said Friday.

By state law, prescriptions for some narcotic medication, scheduled drugs, are not refillable. When one prescription runs out, it can only be refilled with a new script and only after sufficient time has passed for the previous prescription to have run out when taken according to doctor’s orders.

The state Board of Osteopathic Licensure suspended Gosselin’s license July 17, saying he violated board rules including practicing medicine after ingesting drugs and prescribing medication for himself in “circumstances that did not warrant self-treatment.”

An osteopath, Gosselin, who was licensed in 1999, practices at 32 College Ave. in Waterville. His attorney, Eric Menhert, said the state board did not give Gosselin adequate time for his patients to find other doctors in a timely manner. Menhert has appealed the case to Kennebec County Superior Court, seeking a trial on the issues in the case.

State licensing officials suggest that Gosselin had plenty of time to make sure his patients were covered.

Doug Dunbar, legislative liaison in the office of the commissioner of the state Department of Professional & Financial Regulation, which includes the state Board of Osteopathic Licensure, said licensees who are the subject of a hearing and face possible license suspension are typically notified well in advance of the scheduled hearing date. Even before the process reaches a hearing, the doctors “in many instances are aware for some time” that they face potential licensing board discipline.

“Between becoming aware of a review or the scheduling of a hearing and the actual hearing date, which can span several weeks or months, licensees may choose to make decisions about how to handle their business or job responsibilities or best serve their clients/customers, should the board conclude that violations did occur.”

Inland Hospital spokeswoman Sara Dyer said that for privacy reasons she could not comment on whether Gosselin’s patients have been coming to the hospital seeking care, but said Inland wants to assist.

“Inland Hospital is ready to help anyone who needs a new primary care provider,” she said. “We have providers, both (doctors of osteopathy) and (medical doctors) in the Waterville area accepting new patients now.”

No MaineGeneral physician was immediately available to comment for this story.

‘VERY UNFORTUNATE’

McDonald, an Oakland car salesman, said Gosselin was an excellent doctor for the 11 years he was his patient. He said Gosselin has a good bedside manner, listened to him and took good care of him.

“He was the first doctor in 40 years to prescribe the right medicine and get me to where I feel 100 percent better,” McDonald said. “I was around him for years and years and never saw anything considered misconduct, whatsoever.”

McDonald said he is concerned about Gosselin’s other patients, many of whom are very ill.

The licensure board should have provided an alternative for his patients, he said.

“These people are desperate,” McDonald said.

McDonald said he does not question the state board’s decision regarding Gosselin’s substance issues.

“You couldn’t ask for a nicer guy, but unfortunately, his demons are his demons,” he said. “I just pray he can bring them all back to the table, because he has a lot of good reasons to stay in practice. I understand he’s got to be punished for whatever he did, but everybody is not looking at the big picture. Where do you stick 1,400 patients? This isn’t just tickets to a ball game; this is people’s lives and their health.”

Gosselin’s office door was locked Friday. A woman working said she was doing paperwork and could not open the door.

Information on the door said Gosselin practices primary care medicine, internal medicine, spinal manipulation and pain management.

Jennifer Holt, a case manager provider who works in the building, said she knows Gosselin and said he cares deeply for his patients.

“This whole thing is very unfortunate,” she said. “He’s a great doctor and there are a lot of lies being told about him right now and it’s really unfortunate. It not only affects him, it affects his family and it affects his patients.”

Holt said Gosselin offers services, including pain management, that are not readily available elsewhere, and she worries for his patients who are now stuck without a doctor.

“I won’t send my clients to the normal pain clinics because there are a lot of problems,” she said. “He (Gosselin) is willing to treat them, one-on-one. It’s sad. He was great. He’d bring his dogs to work. The patients loved seeing his dogs.”

STATE BOARD APPEARANCES

According to state records, Gosselin had appeared before the state board twice previously.

In 2002, he agreed he had demonstrated unprofessional conduct by calling pharmacies, pretending to be his own physician’s assistant and ordering prescription drugs, and by responding to an emergency call from an intensive care unit when not on call and after consuming alcoholic beverages in October 1999.

In June 2011 he received a warning and was ordered to take a course in professional boundaries and undergo a mental examination after allegations of unprofessional conduct that he was treating a member of his household and that he had engaged in sexual misconduct with a patient. In July 2012, the board ruled he had complied with the sanctions in that case, including the requirement for a mental evaluation and the requirement that he enroll in a course on professional boundaries.

The board stated it was satisfied that Gosselin did not pose a threat of harm to the public. Nine months later, he was charged with operating under the influence of drugs in Fairfield. He agreed to a deferred disposition in which he took part in a substance abuse program and the charge was reduced to driving to endanger. He said he was experiencing medical problems at the time of the accident and denied being under the influence of drugs.

Dunbar said licensing boards are established to protect the public by ensuring applicants and those renewing licenses meet all applicable standards and requirements.

“Boards also serve to protect the public by reviewing complaints about licensees and taking action when it’s concluded that laws or rules have been violated.”

Inland hospital’s Dyer said those seeking a new physician can call Inland’s toll-free provider finder service at 800-914-1409 or email the hospital at [email protected]

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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