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Man worries about running out of pain meds after losing doctor

Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 5:09 PM EST
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OGDENSBURG, New York (WWNY) - After a doctor stopped seeing patients at Ogdensburg’s Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, at least one of his former patients is running out of critically-needed pain medication.

John Beyette suffers from brittle bone disease and has broken bones in just about every part of his body. In early November, he and other patients got letters telling them their appointments with Claxton-Hepburn pain specialist Dr. Juan-Diego Harris were canceled. No reason was given.

“Scared? Yeah. Nervous. Very nervous. I started shaking,” said Beyette.

He knows what’s next once he runs out of his pain meds.

“I’ll get sick to my stomach. I’ll get very weak, lethargic. I won’t want to do anything,” he said.

The patients were told to seek other care. Another Claxton-Hepburn doctor was recommended. But, he has not been able to take all patients.

In response to a 7 News inquiry, the hospital issued a statement which read, in part, “CHMC, and all local healthcare institutions, operate in designated medically underserved areas meaning that we experience ongoing difficulty recruiting enough providers to meet the needs of our community.”

Beyette had to go to Adirondack Health in Saranac Lake for pain management. In early December, the facility said it might be able to take him. He won’t know until mid-January. He has cut down his doses to just a third of what’s required on some meds.

“I think that’s wrong...They know we’re going to be out of pills and they still let us go,” he said.

Beyette’s wife is in the same situation. So is his sister. 7 News spoke to other patients who are trying to get into pain clinics in Watertown. Beyette is afraid of what some patients might do.

“If they can’t get it from doctors, they’re going to get it off the streets,” said Beyette. “They’ll go to crack. They’ll go to heroin. They’ll go to fentanyl.”

Claxton-Hepburn stated former patients of Dr. Harris in need of immediate care can come to its emergency department. The hospital continues its efforts to recruit more specialists.

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