West Memphis truckers’ clinic open, despite setbacks

| Friday, September 07, 2007

Truckers have continued to flood a truck stop medical clinic even after a state board temporarily hamstrung the pioneering venture geared to serve drivers.

John McElligott, a Tennessee resident and medical doctor specializing in internal medicine, helped found the Professional Drivers Medical Depots clinic in West Memphis, AR. It is one of several clinics he plans to open in truck stops throughout the country to take walk-in appointments. The clinic aims to offer low-cost care for drivers whose careers often make traditional doctor appointments and regular check-ups difficult.

In August, the Arkansas State Medical Board pulled two temporary operating licenses for physician assistants at McElligott’s clinic, which caused the clinic to shuttle drivers to a nearby medical office. The clinic has appealed that decision.

McElligott said he didn’t understand the state board’s decision and said his physician assistants were told by board members that they feared the clinic would remove patients from traditional doctor’s offices in the West Memphis area. The Arkansas State Medical Board is chaired by Trent Pierce, who operates a family practice office in West Memphis.

William Trice, the state medical board’s legal counsel, told Land Line the board took issue with the clinic’s scope of treatment and supervision by its medical director.

Drivers have continued to use the clinic, causing some late nights for clinic employees, McElligott said. The clinic now has a nurse practitioner on staff and will continue to stay open, regardless of the Arkansas board’s appeal decision in October, McElligott said.

“It’s the most important profession in the country as far as we’re concerned,” he said.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer
charlie_morasch@landlinemag.com

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