County Commission to press forward with registering pain clinics

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – In what looked like a potential stalemate with a possible 2-2 split vote, the Indian River County Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 instead to proceed with a public hearing regarding proposed rules for pain clinics.

Commissioners originally split over allowing certain state-exempt pain clinics from submitting to a long-form permit application. Two commissioners didn’t want to overburden legitimate businesses. The other two didn’t want to create a potential loophole.

With Commissioner Gary Wheeler absent due to a recent medical procedure, commissioners were left with few options for moving forward.

County Attorney Alan Polackwich suggested that he work out two ordinances and have them prepared for a public hearing in mid-July. The individual ordinances would reflect the long-form application and the exemption, abbreviated form.

Representatives from both law enforcement and the medical community voiced support for the less onerous permits for those clinics the state lists as exempted.

Commissioners Bob Solari and Wesley Davis agreed.

Solari called the long-form “bureaucratic” and information that would just be stuck somewhere in some file.

Davis called the permit “burdensome.”

Commissioners Joe Fletcher and Peter O’Bryan disagreed.

“We are weakening the process,” Fletcher said of allowing the exempted clinics to fill out an abbreviated permit requiring simple contact information.

O’Bryan tried to strike a compromise by suggesting they approve the long-form permit for all for one year and then re-evaluate it for changes later.

The proposed long-form permit would require pain clinic owners to fill out their contact information and that of any and all employees who would be able to issue prescription pain medication. It would also require information about the property owner.

Detective Bill Staar, of the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, told commissioners that he would support both types of permits so long as the clinics are registered. Registering the clinics would help law enforcement identify and deal with illegal clinics.

“There’s big money in this field – pain clinics,” Det. Staar said, adding that the money is good enough  to tempt even the up-standing clinic operators.

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