COMMENTARY: Doctor Needs Patient Support for Trying to Help

Updated 2 years ago by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor

A long time Huntington physician needs letters of support to the WV Board of Medicine for trying to effectively treat many that no one else wanted.

Dr. D.H. Webb began his practice 41 years ago with another Huntington neurologist/ psychiatrist, then, his brother William, a certified addiction counselor (now operating "Oasis" in Barboursville, WV), formed a Holistic Health Center for treating patients with behavioral disorders.

The two brothers believed that the benefit of medication worked in tandem with lifestyle modifications (increasing vitamins, self awareness, lifestyle alterations). Quarterly 'med checks' include basics like blood pressure along with semi-annual EKG and blood testing.

However, over the course of time, his practice expanded to treat those with chronic pain. These alterations were obvious to other more traditional patients treated for anxiety, depression, or various forms of Post Traumatic Stress, even that which came from not veteran's service but tragedy in life's journey, like mine. Webb determined that patients like myself could not have a 'fast' acting and an 'all day' anxiety medication. I chose the 'fast' acting and the dose has remained half a milligram with an option to add when needed. The 'fast' acting has at least twice tamed panic/asthma attacks under deep stress, such as my dad's death and other circumstances.

Pain suffers have stricter rules --- the signs were posted --- concerning , for instance, urine checks, pill counts, and continued treatment.

Some came from areas outside Huntington, as no other doctor would handle pain issues.

Dr. Webb constantly exceeded the norm. When a good friend uttered some unfortunate "feelings" in the wrong place, he agreed to accept her as a patient to get her through a holiday weekend, after her own doctor abandoned her for disregarding advice.

She signed out of a hospital against advice, but friends and family closely watched her during that stressful weekend of a significant presentation. Can't say that the in patient precautions were excellent, though, they picked the briars off the roses I brought, yet she continued wearing hosiery and had a pair of laced sneakers. Fill in the blank please. While requiring treatment, she would still be permitted to travel with a group to NYC for sights, live shows, and a visit to the then still in place, World Trade Center.

Meanwhile, when the Keith Albee sat in limbo, Dr. Webb and his staff joined me in gathering hundreds of signatures to present then Congressman Nick Rahall to underscore that the Huntington community wanted the Keith to not become a deteriorating dinosaur.

We have not always agreed. Confidentiality came at issue during a civil proceeding, which impact the laws (or lack thereof) in West Virginia. The sensitivity and grey areas attracted a look see from the nine justices, who would pass on the Huntington case due to a technicality , only to decide Jaffee v. Redmond a year later arising from the federal system, not a state. 

Currently, Dr. Webb has a public hearing in early November before the state medical review board. An issue relates to the management of the pain clinic.

The issue of prescription drug addiction to opioids and decongestants has wrongfully branded allergy and anxiety sufferers as suspected 'addicts,' though they utilize their now 'controlled' medicine for calming a panic attack or breathing through a what feels like concrete jammed nostrils. Often , pharmacies have not treated these patients with dignity, subjecting them to stereotypical syndromes of those who abuse the medication (or an ingredient thereof). Thus, an allergy induced sinus infection takes more time to heal due to said guidelines, especially for those who have such infections on a chronic basis. 

Dr. Rolly Sullivan, director of Addiction Services at WVU Medicine's Chestnut Ridge Hospital in a Metro News interview noted how the number of patients seen for heroin and opioid abuse has skyrocketed. In fact, there are not enough beds in this or nearly any state for recovery treatment. Patients may wait a year for admission.

Dr. Sullivan emphasized , "it is so difficult to get treatment still. It is embarrassing."

Significantly, Sullivan stressed that peer and/or faith assisted programs must be combined with "medication assisted treatment." as "alone is not enough."

Treatment for opioid abuse such as the medication suboxone causes "a lot of people to get their lives back and get back to work," Sullivan told  Metro News .

Once medication is utilized, the doctor explained that networks of clean peers (somewhat modeled after AA's twelve steps) is "vital" for "moving forward" with "critical solutions."

Although Dr. Webb manages chronic pain treatment, he's following protocols necessary to help those that by the nature of the drugs could become addicted.

That part of his practice has generated ill favored comparisons to the methadone clinic near First Street. Webb used to have his offices above BB & T, but within the last year moved back downtown where his practice originated.

However, some reliable sources have told us that neighbors near the 13th Street office complain about the 'type' of people coming and going from the clinic. Kinda like not wanting an alcoholic, a homeless person, disabled communities, or a low income group nearby. They are people too.

I do not have access to the actual allegations. All I know is that he's kept me stabilized and taught me to 'manage' my lifelong illness, extending occasional hands beyond office hours and respecting sensitivity as to whether I wanted to acknowledge his presence in a public group.

Ironically, I've found more than one 'patient' that came to his office at other activist and business styled meetings, suggesting, of course, that the psychiatrist cares about patient's participating in life activities despite impairment.

Those wishing to express their perspectives concerning Dr. Webb should contact:

WV Board of Medicine
101 Dee Drive
Suite 103
Charleston WV 25311
Phone: (304) 558-2921

Their email is:

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