St. Luke/Kentucky Connection Probed
#1
http://www.kentucky.com/428/story/111322.html
Quote:Posted on Mon, Oct. 13, 2008

Med schools scrutinized
STEPHEN ARNETT LINKED TO ONLINE, FOREIGN PROGRAMS

By Valarie Honeycutt Spears and Lee Mueller
HERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITERS

PAINTSVILLE — The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure has opened an investigation into whether a Magoffin County man who promoted online and foreign medical schools has broken any state laws, C. Lloyd Vest, an attorney for the board, said yesterday.

Stephen J. Arnett, a former tombstone salesman and Free Will Baptist minister, promoted the St. Luke School of Medicine, an online school based in Liberia, from an address in Falcon, a small Magoffin County community, until 2003. He held key titles at the school, including vice president, and helped recruit students and place them in Kentucky hospitals and clinics.

Vest said board officials decided to launch a new investigation following a three-part series in the Herald-Leader and that the board would turn over any evidence to the appropriate authorities. The state attorney general's office also began investigating Arnett's involvement with the foreign school after a reporter called with questions.

The articles outlined how three men who have been convicted of practicing medicine without a license -- two in Kentucky and one in Rhode Island -- used their affiliation with St. Luke to treat patients or to study in clinical settings.

In the 1990s, Arnett owned and ran several Eastern Kentucky clinics.

State authorities investigated complaints against him, but he has never been criminally charged in connection with his medical activities.

Now a licensed massage therapist in both Kentucky and West Virginia, Arnett now maintains an office at 624 James S. Trimble Drive, inside the Paintsville Ramada Inn, called Health and Sports Wellness Center.

A company at the same address is listed in Kentucky Secretary of State records as ISO-Diagnostics Testing of Kentucky with Steve "Arnette" -- the last name spelled with an extra "e" -- as the organizer and director.

But Arnett is rarely seen in the office, hotel employees said.

"He comes in once or twice a month, checks his mail, pays his rent and you'll never see him till next time," Frankie Tackett, a desk clerk at the Ramada, said yesterday.

Filing cabinets and a lighted Tiffany-style lamp on a desk can be seen through the glass door to the office, located just off the hotel lobby. A seal on the door says the center is a member of the American Medical Massage Therapy Association. Services listed include massage therapy, neuromuscular therapy, cellulite treatment, naturopathic/homeopathic remedies and reflexology, as well as homeopathic and natural health products and nutritional consultation.

A Herald-Leader reporter visited the office three times this week and found the door locked.

Arnett could not be reached yesterday and has declined the Herald-Leader's repeated requests for interviews.

Arnett has been licensed as a naturopath in Idaho and Washington, D.C., and as an acupuncturist in West Virginia. Naturopathy involves using only natural elements or the body's own immune system to treat disease.

St. Luke President Jerroll Dolphin said in a recent interview that he stopped working with Arnett in 2003 and took away an honorary medical degree the school had given him because he thought Arnett was giving degrees without requiring proper course work.

Though some states have questioned the school's legitimacy, Dolphin said St. Luke offered an intensive curriculum and was not a diploma mill -- a school without accreditation that awards degrees for money and little work.

Larry Lammers worked in a chain of accident injury centers in Kentucky and served a jail sentence for practicing medicine without a license.

Court documents show that Arnett recruited him to St. Luke. Lammers completed course work, Dolphin said, but did not receive a medical degree because of his Kentucky conviction.

Arnett arranged for Andrew E. Michael to observe a heart specialist in Lexington. While in Kentucky, Michael was convicted in Nevada of practicing medicine without a license. He served a jail sentence and is back in custody on federal credit card charges. He never completed his studies at St. Luke, Dolphin said.

John E. Curran, who was sentenced in August to 12 1/2 years in federal prison in Rhode Island, said Arnett provided him with diplomas in medicine and naturopathy. Dolphin said Curran was never a legitimate St. Luke student.

There is no agency in Kentucky that oversees online degrees, nor does the state have an office that investigates people accused of practicing medicine without a license.

But Vest has said the board investigates any allegation it receives and that the attorney general's office can seek an injunction to stop the activity.

Fake degrees are illegal in Oregon, New Jersey, Indiana, Illinois, North Dakota and Nevada, where they are misdemeanors and punishable by fines. However, violators rarely face prosecution.

State Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, said that she will, for the fourth time, introduce a bill that would make the use of bogus credentials a Class D felony, punishable by a prison sentence of up to five years.
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#2
http://www.kentucky.com/428/story/111333.html
Quote:Posted on Mon, Oct. 13, 2008

Arnett facing another investigation
KY. GAVE HIM SURGICAL ASSISTANT LICENSE

By Valarie Honeycutt Spears
HERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITER

LOUISVILLE — Stephen J. Arnett, currently under investigation for promoting online and foreign medical schools from Magoffin County, was recently given a license to practice as a surgical assistant in Kentucky.

The license allows him, while being supervised, to assist surgeons with opening and closing incisions and other procedures during surgery. It is not clear whether Arnett is actually working in that capacity. He indicated to the Board of Medical Licensure that he intended to start a surgical assistants company. Arnett was a key figure in Degrees of Harm, a Herald-Leader series in October, that examined his role in recruiting students to treat patients, study in clinical settings or receive online medical degrees. Three men Arnett was involved with have been convicted of practicing medicine without a license -- one in Kentucky, one in Nevada and one in Rhode Island.

In the past, Arnett has described himself as having medical degrees and other medical credentials that he did not have. He has been investigated by state and federal authorities, but has never been charged with any crime as a result of his medical activities. He is not licensed as a medical doctor in Kentucky or any other state.

Kentucky's Board of Medical Licensure denied Arnett a physician's assistant's license in 1988 and warned him not to "hold himself out" as one. The board investigated him in 1997 after a complaint that he was again working as a physician's assistant, but when the board shared the results with law enforcement officials, nothing was done.

C. Loyd Vest, an attorney for the medical board, said that Arnett was granted a surgical assistant's license in March.

The board initially approved Arnett's application on its face, Vest said. However, when questioned by a reporter about it recently, he said: "We are now reviewing the information that he provided to get a surgical assistant's license."

In Kentucky, payments for the work of a certified surgical assistant have recently become reimbursable through third-party insurance.

Arnett has not responded to several requests by the Herald-Leader for an interview. But in a court deposition from a lawsuit against him that was later dismissed, he said he was always honest about his degrees and that they were all legitimate.

After the publication of the Herald-Leader series, Kentucky's medical licensure board began investigating how Arnett helped other people get medical degrees.

Florida clinics

Why, Vest was asked, was Arnett, who had previously been turned down for a physician's assistant's license, granted a surgical assistant's license?

The requirements for the two licenses are different, Vest said. More is required of a physician's assistant, who acts as an agent of the supervising physician and is allowed to treat patients and prescribe medication.

Under Kentucky law, a surgical assistant's license can be obtained if a person is certified by one of several national surgical assistant's groups and completes 800 hours in the three previous years as an assistant in surgical procedures under the direct supervision of a physician licensed in this country.

Arnett presented documents to the board in January showing he had passed a test given by a national group approved by the board -- the North Carolina-based national Surgical Assistant Association.

Officials from that organization did not return telephone calls or respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Arnett also told the board in his application that he had trained as a surgical assistant at two Florida clinics for 850 hours between 2002 and 2005.

One of the clinics was the Hallandale Orthopedic and Outpatient Surgical Center in Hallandale, Fla. That facility's current Web site lists it as Orthopedic Rehab of Hallandale Inc. It does not mention surgical procedures, but advertises chiropractic and alternative and natural medicine services.

A licensed chiropractor on staff at the clinic advertises having a naturopathic degree from St. Luke School of Medicine and Southern Graduate Institute, schools where Arnett once held key titles. Naturopathy involves using only natural elements or the body's own immune system to treat disease.

The Hallandale clinic's Web site also says that the osteopath is a faculty member at a university in the Caribbean that Arnett once promoted.

At a second clinic in St. Petersburg, Fla., clinic director Joseph DiStefano said that Arnett observed several hours of surgery and other medical procedures performed by a licensed physician until the clinic stopped performing surgeries more than a year ago, when a staff member retired.

Arnett's application to the board said he was employed by Kentucky Surgical Arts #2 Ortho-Rehab on James Trimble Boulevard in Paintsville.

Arnett now maintains an office at 624 James S. Trimble Drive inside the Paintsville Ramada Inn, called Health and Sports Wellness Center. A seal on the door says the center is a member of the American Medical Massage Therapy Association. Services listed include massage therapy, neuromuscular therapy, cellulite treatment, naturopathic/homeopathic remedies and reflexology, as well as homeopathic and natural health products and nutritional consultation -- but not outpatient surgery.

Arnett is a licensed massage therapist in West Virginia and Kentucky. He has been licensed as a naturopath in Idaho and Washington, D.C., and as an acupuncturist in West Virginia.

He has also incorporated the Kentucky Association of Surgical Assistant Inc., according to records filed with the Kentucky secretary of state.

A company at the same address is listed in the Secretary of State's records as ISO-Diagnostics Testing of Kentucky, with Steve Arnette -- the last name spelled with an extra e -- as the organizer and director.

In addition to looking into Arnett's credentials, Vest said the Kentucky board is also investigating the activities of the businesses which carry Arnett's name in state records.
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#3
Kentucky? I sure hope that ..., nah, he'd never be involved with a bogus medical school. Rolleyes
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#4
Armando;

Interesting story but is there a point you're making? There are some frauds but there are thousands of doctors practicing with offshore medical degrees. There is a difference.
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#5
Fort Bragg Wrote:Armando;

Interesting story but is there a point you're making?  There are some frauds but there are thousands of doctors practicing with offshore medical degrees.  There is a difference.

Not really making a point myself, but the stories raised a lot of interesting issues.  Plus, who can resist any story with "Jerroll Dolphin" as a main character?  

For starters, it seems like Arnett is taking heat on all fronts solely because of his association with St. Luke.  Arnett appears to be appropriately trained and licensed, and engaged in appropriate activities for his training and licensure.  But he is still getting the hot foot from the local press.  

And Dolphin seemed very adamant: "Dolphin said St. Luke offered an intensive curriculum and was not a diploma mill..."  

Meanwhile, it appears some other guys with St. Luke connections were engaging in inappropriate activities.  It's already illegal to practice medicine without a license in most places.  The question of whether the fraudster has a bogus degree or a real one seems irrelevant.  

As you say, there are thousands of doctors practicing competently with offshore medical degrees.  And there are also thousands of doctors with perfectly proper degrees and licenses out there malpracticing.  We already have an elaborate licensing system so big brother can protect us from unqualified physicians.  If people are slipping through the cracks it's an indictment of the existing licensing and regulatory system, not non-traditional education.  It's always interesting to see the jerk weeds on other channels seize on these stories as evidence that unaccredited schools are evil incarnate, when it's really the incompetence of their beloved statist bureaucracies that causes the problems.  

And of course the parallel between the wealthy, entrenched medical interests fighting incursions by non-traditional healers into the field, just as the wealthy, entrenched higher education interests fight incursions by non-traditional education into theirs.  The controllers use public health and safety as a justification for eliminating competition.  If they were really interested in health and safety wouldn't the public be better served by the elimination of incompetent practitioners?   Where's the multi-part series on incompetent surgeons cutting off the wrong body part or government certified physicians killing or maiming patients with "conventional" medical treatment?  Every courthouse is filled with boxes of files documenting these events, but the odds of seeing those stories covered in the local fish wrap are slim and none.  It's easier (and safer) to pick on some naturopath out in Kentucky.
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#6
Armando Ramos Wrote:Meanwhile, it appears some other guys with St. Luke connections were engaging in inappropriate activities.  It's already illegal to practice medicine without a license in most places.  The question of whether the fraudster has a bogus degree or a real one seems irrelevant.  

They sure are stories without substance. The guy is being investigated for some reason not clear in the story and he seems to be guilty of legally qualifying for every credential he has. Strange stuff.
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