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Willcox school children plant trees at golf course

WILLCOX — Planting trees and piping water are small steps toward big changes for the City of Willcox.

The tree-planting project gathered schoolchildren and local community leaders together Wednesday, May 1, at the Twin Lakes Golf Course to plant more than 30 afghan pine trees.

The Willcox Middle School seventh-grade class has been working for three months to gather funds to plant 90 trees in the city. The middle school class raised more than $700 to purchase the plants.

The class has also partnered with Southeastern Arizona Community Action Program (SEACAP), which raised more than $3,000 of contributed funds from local community members and businesses.

“The tree-planting drive was one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve had in recent times. My dream is to put Willcox on the map as a town that started a ‘Go Green Movement.’ I dream of a day when every school in every part of the world introduces tree planting into their academic program,” said Willcox seventh-grade teacher Rebecca Bhasme. “If this dream comes true, we will be able to replenish this world and create a better future for the next generations.”

Cochise Elementary School also donated and planted four trees as well.

The funds needed to put the irrigation piping into the golf course for the May 1 planting were promised to the city by Southwest Irrigation company.

“We got a new wastewater treatment plant, and we’re using reclaimed water to water those trees,” said Willcox City Manager Caleb Blaschke. “The city is trying to be water conscious and save the environment.”

More trees will be planted at the Willcox Cemetery and Quail Park in October.

“We weren’t ready with our other sites (for tree planting), which is the cemetery and Quail Park. We’re master planning Quail Park, and we don’t want to plant trees there because we’re doing a master plan of it and we want to put them in the right spaces. We don’t want to put them in areas that might be used for parking lots or something else. In the meantime, the city is trying to run tertiary water to our parks,” Blaschke said.

Local doc receives disciplinary action for misconduct

WILLCOX — A determination of excessively prescribing certain medications landed one local doctor in hot water.

The Arizona Board of Osteopathic Examiners in Medicine and Surgery met April 13 in Phoenix to act on allegations of unprofessionalism, one of which centered on local Willcox family doctor, Dr. Jeffery Bushman.

The complaint that was made to the board was that Bushman was overprescribing narcotic medications to his patients.

A report on Bushman’s prescribing history was presented to the board by Barbara Prah-Wix, D.O., interim executive director and medical consultant. Prah’s report concluded that four of every 10 patients receiving narcotic prescriptions had no previous medical records available and the charts were not sent. Also, in all of the prescriptions, there were no substance agreements signed.

Four out of every 10 of Bushman’s patients had inconsistent urine screens, and none was discussed in a progress chart review as Bushman continued to prescribe controlled substances. Four out of every 10 prescriptions made by Dr. Bushman prescribed benzodiazepines alongside other opioids.

“There was no discussion (of) using birth control pills or birth control methods while on opioids in a female of child-bearing age,” Prah said in her report to the board. “In another case, there was no discussion of the use of birth control while using opioids, and the patient became pregnant and delivered with no prenatal care on opioids and benzos (benzodiazepines).”

The complaint came to the board from a local pharmacist in Willcox who, in his report, told the board that he had asked Bushman to lower the quantity of narcotics to his patients multiple times. Also, the pharmacist told the board that Bushman misled his patients, telling them all they had to do was bring $50 to the pharmacist and it should cover the prescription needs. According to the reporting pharmacist, Bushman would prescribe a patient 20 pills one month, and then 180 the next. Bushman told the board he believed he was prescribing appropriately at the time and that the reporting pharmacist was incorrect.

“When the opioid guidelines came out this year, I wasn’t 100 percent on board with everything because of the way I was trained in the ‘80s and ‘90s,” Bushman told the board. “I did prescribe a lot of high doses of opioids. I did prescribe benzos and opioids together. However, after the guidelines came out, after talking to other doctors and reading articles, I decided I better get on board (with the opioid prescription guidelines).”

In response to Bushman’s comments, the board retrieved a file of one of Bushman’s patients from May 2018 who was receiving a prescription for M.S. Contin (an extended-release morphine), who also tested positive for Xanax and marijuana.

The board voted to strip Bushman of his ability to write prescriptions in a practice restriction disciplinary action. Bushman is not currently allowed to prescribe controlled substances class two to five, and he cannot recommend marijuana. Bushman was also ordered to schedule an evaluation.

Bushman responds

Bushman told the Range News that the board only asked for 10 of his patient charts, thus giving a misrepresentation of his prescribing practices.

Bushman also said his office had a clerical error by not sending in several pain charts to the Arizona Board of Pharmacy Reports to the hearing, but he brought them to the hearing and his practice was up to date on all of them.

He added that he never prescribed or recommended marijuana, and that the circumstance regarding the woman who became pregnant while on his prescription for opioids and benzodiazepines didn’t apply to him because he didn’t see her again. According to Bushman, the woman who became pregnant was seen by a nurse practitioner while she was pregnant.

“I haven’t spoken to this person (the pharmacist who reported Bushman) in several years. He made it sound like he’s tried to get ahold of me and I’ve refused his calls, and that’s not true. I’ve never refused a call from any pharmacist or doctor ever,” Bushman said.

Regarding the allegation that Bushman told his patients to pay a pharmacy $50 to obtain medications, Bushman told the Range News he knew nothing about it. Also, Bushman said he had gotten all his patients off benzodiazepines and opioids together.

As to the latest prescribing practices of his office, Bushman said he had gotten all of his patients down to 90 milligrams of morphine, including chronic pain patients whom he had been seeing for years.

“I appreciate the love and support that I’ve felt coming from the community going through this,” Bushman said. “I’d also like to point out that I’ve never broken any laws, and these guidelines (of opioid prescription) came out last year.”

Bushman said he intends to go to continuing education and evaluation in San Diego that was required by the board.

The Range News spoke to Ainslee Wittig, public relations coordinator at Northern Cochise Community Hospital, in reference to Bushman. Wittig told the Range News that Bushman is no longer working at the hospital.

An agenda for the meeting that included Dr. Bushman is available online at www.azdo.gov. An audio recording of the hearing is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jay-UxgsMk&t=11019s.