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5 questions with: Willcox Mayor Mike Laws

In the lead-up to the 2020 election year, the Arizona Range News will be featuring elected officials from Cochise County, asking about their communities and their approach to local issues.

We spoke with Willcox Mayor Mike Laws. Laws and his wife, Revonda, own the Laws Freedom Bail Bonds business in Willcox. Laws was elected to Willcox City Council in December of 2014 and was elected mayor in 2016 by a six-to-one margin.

Arizona Range News: What is the most important quality in the leader of a community?

Laws: I think being able to recognize and then put your experiences and skills together. It is important for me as mayor of Willcox to ensure that our community works together to utilize our limited resources. To ensure that our economy excels in Willcox, we are looking at ways and means of utilizing the production, distribution and consumption of these resources. If we don’t have a vision for the future, then our future will be threatened to be a repeat of our past. The past cannot be changed, but the future is still in our control. As mayor, I strive to say yes to the economic development and the future of Willcox.

Arizona Range News: What are your feelings on cooperation between local communities?

Laws: We should always help each other. We can sometimes do more for the people together.

Arizona Range News: What is the reason you decided to participate in local government?

Laws: I was asked because of my business background. Being semi-retired, I knew I could really put the time in to help people.

Arizona Range News: What changes do you see coming to the community during your period as mayor?

Laws: I see lots of changes because the mayor and council say yes now. New city manager, new sewer treatment plant, now we can grow. Business and jobs have come, and more are coming.

Arizona Range News: In what ways are you willing to improve the quality of life for the aging seniors in our communities?

Laws: Safety is very important (and) transportation. And I want to see Meals on Wheels come to Willcox. I supported this program in Texas for my Mom for the last 30 years. Not only was a great meal being prepared for her every day, but someone was visiting with her and checking on her well- being for me. If she did not answer the door, someone would call me. Think of the peace of mind that gave both of us.

Bushman’s license restrictions lifted

WILLCOX — Although he remains on a two-year probationary period, the prescription restrictions on Dr. Jeffery Bushman’s license have been lifted.

“I’m happy the restrictions are lifted, and I’m going to go ahead and look for a position somewhere,” Bushman told the Range News after an October hearing.

On Oct. 19, the Arizona Board of Osteopathic Examiners in Medicine and Surgery met once again; and Bushman, having undergone narcotics training since April, requested the board lift the restrictions on his license.

“It’s basically impossible to get a job with a restriction on your license, I found out,” Bushman said during the October board hearing.

A complaint was made to the board expressly indicating that Bushman was overprescribing narcotics to his patients earlier this year. As a result, Bushman was called to the board in April and the board voted to strip Bushman of his ability to write prescriptions. Bushman wasn’t allowed to prescribe controlled substances — classes two to five — for six months.

Due to the fact that the Northern Cochise Community Hospital will not employ a physician with prescription restrictions on his or her license, Bushman’s contract was terminated by the hospital.

A report was read on Dr. Bushman’s narcotics prescribing history in a review of 10 charts. The summary included patients receiving narcotic prescriptions who had no previous medical records available and the charts were not sent. Also, there were no substance agreements signed in correspondence with narcotic prescriptions. According to the investigation, Bushman’s patients had inconsistent urine screens and none was discussed in a progress chart review as Bushman continued to prescribe controlled substances. According to the history of the charts received by the board inquiry, Dr. Bushman prescribed benzodiazepines alongside other opioids. In another case, there was reportedly no discussion on the use of birth control while using opioids. Bushman’s patient became pregnant and delivered with no prenatal care while on opioids and benzodiazepines.

“With regards to the patient who was pregnant and received narcotics, that was not me. That was someone in the office. I never saw her during her pregnancy,” Bushman said to the board in October.

In response to Bushman’s statement, the board asked how Bushman’s name was on the pregnant patient’s file.

“The charts in our office are all together in one. I don’t know what happened, but it was a nurse-practitioner in the office who prescribed. And as far as the pain contracts, the PSP, pharmacy reports, I brought a copy of all those with me to the April meetings. For some reason, my office didn’t send them,” Bushman said.

A board member asked Bushman what he had learned in the past months. Bushman replied that he now questions the validity of long-term opioid prescribing. As for his future prescribing tendencies, Bushman said he will defer all chronic pain management patients to specialists.

One of the doctors on the board knew about the Northern Cochise Hospital District Board of Directors meeting that was opened to the community in June regarding Bushman’s dismissal from the hospital. Bushman was asked to talk about the meeting.

In the June Northern Cochise Hospital District Board of Directors meeting, Bushman spoke at length regarding his dismissal from the hospital, and many of his former patients expressed their extreme unhappiness toward the hospital about his discharge.

“Patients of mine, on their own, wanted to meet with the board of the hospital to discuss this and show their support for me. I didn’t haven’t anything directly to do with it. I attended it, but it was just something my patients did,” Bushman said.

The board discussed what should be done with Bushman’s license restrictions, with two of the board being hesitant to reinstate Bushman’s prescribing abilities. Other members of the board sympathized with Bushman and wanted to lift the restrictions.

In the end, the board lifted the restrictions, but a two-year probationary period was placed on Bushman and he must check in quarterly with the Arizona Board of Osteopathic Examiners in Medicine and Surgery.

To listen to the board meeting click on the link below: