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Pain clinic closes without notice; founder had pleaded guilty to health care fraud
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A Gainesville medical clinic closed Thursday with no notice to patients or staff, and two people were at the office Monday, talking with patients who came by.

The Georgia Pain Physicians office, which was part of a larger group, closed. It is at 715 Queen City Parkway.

Other offices in the group were in Ringgold, Calhoun, Forest Park and Marietta.

Sherricka Smith, a medical assistant in the practice, was talking with patients as they came to the clinic. She said she was trying to help patients who might be out of prescriptions for pain.

Smith said she has worked three years at the clinic and was at the predecessor office also. She has worked there a total of eight years, she said.

One doctor, Ramya Rangaraj, worked at the clinic in Gainesville.

She will go to work for the Center for Spine & Pain Medicine, Nick Jooma, who said he is the marketing director for that group, reported. He said it would be a couple of weeks before she sees patients at Center for Spine & Pain Medicine because of getting the necessary paperwork completed.

The Center for Spine & Pain Medicine has a Gainesville office at 1016 Thompson Bridge Road. It also has offices in Dalton and Chattanooga, Tenn.

Jooma said the office here has been open about one and a half years. The practice was started in Dalton, he said, and has been there 12 years.

Smith said the Georgia Pain Physicians staff had no warning the closing was coming. She said she would go to the Center for Spine & Pain Medicine with Rangaraj.

The founder of the business, Robert Windsor, pleaded guilty in March to health care fraud for filing claims for surgical monitoring services he did not perform, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of Georgia.

Smith said Windsor told staff members about the charges in a conference call a few months ago.

She said he told the staff the charges were not related to the pain clinics in Georgia.

Jooma said staff members at the clinic had not been paid for three weeks.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, Windsor had contract with American Neuromonitoring Associates, a Maryland corporation, to provide a medical service called intra-operative monitoring. In that medical procedure, a physician monitors a patient’s nerve and spinal cord activity during surgery to reduce potential adverse effects to the patient.

Windsor pleaded guilty to having a medical assistant do the monitoring and using Windsor’s credentials to enter information, the U.S. attorney’s release said.

Smith and Jooma said patients who might be out of their medicine would have a difficult time getting prescriptions refilled.

“It would be a nightmare for a patient to know a pain clinic has shut down,” Jooma said.

Jooma said access to patient records would be the key for another practice to see them and take on their care. He indicated a request for the records can be filed through a fax number.

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