Dr. Wendell Lewis Randall, a pathologist who lives in Millers Creek and specializes in addiction medicine, said he wants to bring a practice to Wilkesboro similar to what he already has on North Main Street of Mount Airy.
Randall’s practice in Mount Airy is called “NIT, PLLC.” According to its Facebook page, NIT is an addiction, family and pain medicine practice offering medication-assisted treatment with Suboxone/Subutex, on-site counseling and toxicology studies in its physician-owned laboratory. It opened on Aug. 1, 2018.
Suboxone contains both buprenorphine and naloxone, whereas Subutex contains only buprenorphine. Both were approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002 to treat opioid use disorder. Both are Schedule III narcotics and are considered less likely to be abused than Schedule II substances such as methadone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In an interview Tuesday, Randall, 66, said he didn’t have a license to dispense methadone. He said the Wilkesboro Planning Board wrongly thought he wanted to open a methadone clinic in downtown Wilkesboro.
“I have been discussing the possibility of this clinic in Wilkesboro for several years. It would be of benefit to local citizens. Our clinic would provide state of the art care by providers interested in helping these patients.”
Randall indicated that several of his patients are residents of Wilkes County and are seen at NIT. “It would be great to assist their medical needs locally. All patients are treated according to the existing standard of care. Our providers are empathetic and sensitive to the patient’s needs.”
He said the medical facility he would like to establish at 104 East Main Street—the easternmost parcel in the town’s B1 central business district—would offer a physician office laboratory supporting the mission of the clinic and would operate Monday through Thursday only.
Regarding Wilkesboro’s 30-day moratorium on medical and dental offices being established in the central business district (downtown), approved Monday, Randall said, “I am not sure why a moratorium should be passed or reinstated. Now when there is new interest (in opening a clinic), another moratorium is approved.”
He added, “There is adequate parking at the facility and we are not introducing an element unknown to the area; this medical need exists in the county.”
Randall confirmed that he was considering opening a similar clinic in March 2018, just prior to Wilkesboro passing a 180-day moratorium then.
“This isn’t the first time a moratorium was issued just as I was contemplating placing a medical office in Wilkesboro. If I recall, Dr. (Fred C.) Hubbard had an office in the downtown area of Wilkesboro.”
Randall said his understanding was that the Great State Auction Co. building may not be in Wilkesboro’s B1 central business district, but Wilkesboro Town Manager Ken Noland refuted that Monday morning, saying it was the easternmost parcel in B1. Wilkesboro’s zoning map, last updated on Feb. 9, 2017, by the High Country Council of Governments, supports Noland’s assertion.
“Dr. (Ronald) Cohn operates a clinic (Holistic Medical Clinic of the Carolinas) in the area without interruption,” noted Randall. Cohn’s clinic is in a B2 (general business) district, which has no restrictions on medical and dental offices.
Randall said he is board eligible in addiction medicine and will sit for his examination on Nov. 2 in Bristol, Va. He said he has experience in pain management under the supervision of a board-certified physician, Dr. Duane Dixon. Randall is also certified in integrative medicine by the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine and is board certified in anatomic and clinical pathology.
Randall has been practicing medicine since 1985 and has lived in Wilkes County since 1995. He lives off N.C. 16 North in Millers Creek.
He operated a physician office lab called Consultants in Pathology in the old Wilkesboro Fire Department building at 100 North Bridge Street from 1999 to September 2015. The practice was then renamed Physician Wellness and revamped as a clinic offering pain relief.
Physician Wellness closed when a moratorium was initiated by the Town of Wilkesboro, according to Randall, “for reasons unclear to me. I was rudely removed (through the) efforts of (Councilman) Russ Ferree.”
Ferree refuted that claim, saying Thursday morning, “Balderdash. I never lifted a finger; didn’t even remember this man’s first name until the (Wilkes Journal-Patriot) sent (his comments) to me” by email.