Perp Walk

Back in the days that our kids were still in school, I got roped into helping to found and run the North Puffin Parent Target School Development group (fortunately both kids were graduated and have gone on to live happy and productive lives with only the slightest of tics) and the Mooselookmeguntic Rural Health Center.

Northern Vermont was rural and underserved in telecommunications, in the arts, and in medicine three or four decades ago. RHCs answered part of that by staffing small, local storefronts with a team that usually included a nurse practitioner or physician assistant, and often a nurse-midwife, and a physician to supervise the mid-level practitioners.

Our acute care regional hospital provided the expertise and the towns found grant money to found the Mooselookmeguntic Center. We provided outpatient primary care services and basic lab work on site but the hospital was close enough to transfer patients or samples easily. RHCs qualify for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.

I got to know an osteopath, Ned Mitchell, when he was a young doc at a clinic in one of the neighboring towns. He subbed for us at the Mooselookmeguntic Center as well as volunteering in sports medicine for a hockey team that played in the North Puffin Arena.

Nice fellow. And unusual for an osteopath these days since he still practiced bone crunching.

“I crunch,” Dr. Mitchell told me, “to restore movement to the stiff joints of the spine.” Manipulation is becoming something of a lost technique as more and more docs move to ultrasound and other gadgets that let them avoid touching a patient.

“I need to touch,” he said. “That connection often tells me more than a normal patient interview.”

As Gregory House liked to remind us, “patients lie.”

Ned wasn’t “our” doc because his practice and clinic was a couple of towns over but he has laid hands on my back more than a couple of times and managed to keep me standing upright. At least he did until the cops perp walked him out of the Arena in front of the TV cameras one cold, snowy afternoon.

It was a divisional championship game between the fierce rival North Puffin Hawks and the South Burlington Rangers. Ned was subbing again as team doc for the Hawks.

Channel 3, the local CBS affiliate, was on site broadcasting the game.

Justin Dupuis had just scored his second goal. That tied the game.

Three Vermont State Police cars and two Sheriff’s deputies rushed the parking lot. The deputies covered the western exits to the arena. Two troopers took positions at the south and north corners of the building. Four more troopers moved into the arena and onto the ice.

The game stopped.

The troopers located Ned on the home bench. They forced him to the ice, searched him, handcuffed him, and walked him out.

This isn’t a story about priests or boy scout leaders or teachers diddling kids.

Page 1, Above the Fold.
Physician Arrested
PUFFIN CENTER (UPI)–Edward G. Mitchell, D.O., a 35-year-old physician in Vermont, has been arrested for allegedly instructing students to cut and burn themselves to get rid of demons.
Mitchell faces charges of aggravated child abuse and child abuse.
One teenaged student suffered second-degree burns. “Dr. Mitchell told me to spray deodorant on my hand and light it on fire,” he said in an affidavit released by the Vermont State Police. Mitchell allegedly also cut that student with a broken bottle and cauterized the wound with a key he heated up with a flame.
Authorities were alerted after one of the hockey teens told his parents.
Mitchell is being held on $50,000 bail and has been put on unpaid suspension from his Rural Health Center clinic.

The hospital released this statement: “Edward G. Mitchell is a physician in our Rural Health Center system and has privileges in this hospital. He has our full support but has been put on leave per hospital policy.”

Page 1, Above the Fold.
New Charges Against Physician
PUFFIN CENTER (UPI)–Edward G. Mitchell, D.O., the 35-year-old physician in Vermont arrested for allegedly performing cutting and burning rituals on students, has been arrested again.
“Our continuing investigation shows that Mitchell was allegedly selling and employing hockey players to help sell, prescription drugs around the sports centers” according to a Vermont State Police statement.
Mitchell was housed in the Northwest State Correctional Facility in lieu of $100,000 bond.
“I’m okay,” the 17-year-old teen forced to participate in the sales and the ritual burning told the Gazette. “I’m fine. All I know is he’s in custody.”

The hospital released this statement: “Edward G. Mitchell was a physician at the East Puffin Rural Health Center from June 1980 through May 1986 and had privileges in this hospital. His contract was not renewed effective the end of May 1986.”

Page 12, Section 2.
Charges Against Physician Dropped
PUFFIN CENTER (UPI)—Edward G. Mitchell, D.O., the 35-year-old physician in Vermont charged with felony drug possession, drug dealing, pandering, theft of services, and performing rituals on students, has been released.
“The student recanted his statement,” according to the Vermont State Police.
That former student, now 19, told police he was angry with Dr. Mitchell for benching him for drug use during a playoff.
“The Centers for Medicare Services Inspector General’s Office performed a complete audit of the prescription medication inventory and of the complete financial books of the clinic and of his private practice,” a CMS spokesman said. “We found no discrepancies.”

After his release, Ned Mitchell, D.O., moved to open a new practice “far from the rumor mill.” He accepted a post in the Emergency Department at a small hospital in rural western Maryland.

Someone uncovered the page 1 stories.

In December of 1989, Dr. Mitchell’s new posting in Maryland told reporters, “The employee has been terminated. As termination is a personnel matter, we will not make any further comment.”

Ned Mitchell, D.O., is now working as a commercial fisherman, catching sockeye salmon, Bering Sea crab and pollock, in Alaska.

And I have no one to keep me straight, all because some kid lied and the system ran with it.


One thought on “Perp Walk

  1. This story seriously needs to make the rounds.
    You have stretched NOTHING?
    Why didn’t the doc sue the kid and his parents? I realize there may not be anything there, but it would seem to be a civic duty to make an example of them…. and maybe sue the town and cops for sloppy legal practices.

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