Doctor back at work after arrest

By Thomas Garcia, Freedom New Mexico

A Portales doctor is back to practicing medicine following Thursday’s narcotics trafficking arrest in Belen.

Patricia Green, 54, was working Tuesday at the Sparrow Family Medical Clinic at 1500 South Ave. D in Portales. She is accused of trafficking a controlled substance, methadone, in Roosevelt County.

Green is charged with trafficking because she allegedly prescribed the methadone under a false pretense, according to Roosevelt County Sheriff Darren Hooker.

“The drug was requested for treatment of heroin addiction,” Hooker said. “Dr. Green prescribed the methadone for pain treatment, which was not the case.”

According to the arrest affidavit, Green told an undercover agent posing as a heroin addict that “she already had the police on her back and the pharmacy on her back and that she was just trying to help people, but they would not let her.”

The arrest was a result of an investigation that took place over two years, according to a press release from the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office.

The investigation began after contacts with known drug users revealed prescriptions issued by Green were being sold or traded for other drugs, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.

Green posted a $10,000 cash bond Saturday at the Valencia County Detention Center.

Methadone is a morphine-based product used as a heroin substitution therapy and analgesic, according to a Food and Drug Administration drug safety newsletter.

Methadone should only be prescribed for patients with moderate to severe pain when their pain is not improved with other non-narcotic pain relievers, according to the newsletter.

Green’s license to practice medicine is still on active status, according to Lynn Hart, executive director of the New Mexico Medical Board.

When an alleged violation of the Practicing Act or complaint on a doctor is reported, the medical board opens an investigation, Hart said.

Hart, citing privacy reasons, declined comment on whether Green’s case is being investigated.

News of Green’s arrest has sparked debate among online readers who leave comments on the Portales News-Tribune Web site.

While a few of the comments posted on the PNT Web site offer support for Green, many of them praise the arrest.

Jody Buckley of Roswell said she used to work for Green and is now a patient.

“Doctor Green is a very caring person that is just trying to help people,” Buckley said. “I don’t think that she would do anything to help the illegal street drug industry.

“As a patient and former employee I have never seen the illegal distribution or sale of prescription medication in the office.”

Buckley said she worked as a medical assistant in Portales for Green from 1999 to 2001. She said she has been a patient of Green’s since 2001 and still receives high blood pressure medication from her.

Buckley said while she worked with Green there were a few patients who requested methadone for treatment of their heroin addiction.

“If you have ever seen an addict with track marks come in shaking and vomiting asking for help, you would help them,” Buckley said. “Anybody with a heart would try to help them.”

Green did not return a telephone call seeking comment.