New Castle News


July 18, 2013

Patient at loss for pain medication during probe

NEW CASTLE — A patient of a pain doctor whose office was raided said she has tried in vain to get her medication refilled.

But local pharmacies rejected her prescriptions and she resorted to visiting an emergency room to see a physician.

Last week, federal agents from Ohio conducted a search of the Allied Pain Treatment Center, which operates out of a suite of offices on Noble House Road in Neshannock Township. The offices are run by Dr. Thomas A. Ranieri, a pain specialist, who also has offices in Boardman and in Columbus in Ohio. Those offices also were raided.

No charges have been filed against Ranieri and his license has not been revoked.

The Neshannock facility has reopened, his office manager said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Donna Fitch of Mahoningtown said she is in dire need of her medication.

“I’m an outpatient of his and have been out of my oral medicine,” she explained. “I have a pain pump and no medicine running through it. Nobody in this town wants to help me.”

Fitch moved to New Castle a year ago from San Diego, where she had suffered a back injury at work in 2006 and underwent two operations.

“They didn’t work, and I had to find a pain specialist there who put a pain pump in me,” she said.

Her husband had lost his job in San Diego and they moved to New Castle because he has family here, she explained. Her doctor in San Diego referred her to Ranieri.

“There aren’t too many pain specialists in New Castle,” Fitch said. Ranieri has been filling her pain pumps once a month and prescribes her oral narcotic medications, she explained.

Without her prescriptions, she said, she’s in intense pain.

Fitch called the doctor’s office and was advised to try different pharmacies.

“I’ve tried every one in the phone book,” she said. “The pharmacists here said that because of what’s going on with Dr. Ranieri, they won’t fill them. They advised me to go to get another doctor.

“I’m in so much pain now I can’t even think,” Fitch said Wednesday by phone from Jameson Hospital’s emergency room.

“It’s not just me. There are hundreds of patients he has to see and we’re all going through this.”

“We’re back up and running,” Kristin Rummel, Ranieri’s office supervisor, said Wednesday.

“We will have a physician in the office three days next week,” she noted, adding it will be Ranieri.

“We never lost our license. It was never pulled.”

George Stefanis, owner of Hyde’s Drug in Mahoningtown, said he doesn’t have many customers who are Ranieri’s patients, but provided an explanation of why local pharmacists might be reluctant to fill prescriptions he has issued.

Since the agents raided Ranieri’s office, “we have not been approached by anyone who has prescriptions in their hands from him,” Stefanis said.

“That doesn’t usually happen because, in general, when patients get prescriptions for pain they usually get them filled right away.”

It is possible for them to have post-dated ones, he said, but he would hesitate to honor them because the physician is unavailable for consultation.

“That kind of breaks the chain between the physician, the pharmacist and the patient,” Stefanis explained.

Patients generally arrange to have their primary care physicians bridge them until they can find another pain doctor, he said.

“Common sense suggests that if (the doctor) is not available for consultation, then he hasn’t been writing prescriptions,” Stefanis said, stressing, “his availability for consultation is very critical.”

Stefanis pointed out the same situation arises if a doctor dies and his patients have unfilled prescriptions.

“I would err on the side of caution and wouldn’t feel comfortable filling a prescription unless I could reach the doctor for a consultation,” he commented.

If Ranieri resumes his practice and is available, then it would be up to the individual pharmacist whether to honor his prescriptions, Stefanis said.

“In my opinion, as long as he has not been charged and everything else is appropriate, I’d take each prescription on a case-by-case basis.”

James Ciotti of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation declined specific comment about the investigation, which is being handled primarily by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Several federal and local agencies in Ohio are involved in the probe, and federal search warrants served on the offices are under court seal.

Ciotti said Ranieri likely has numerous legitimate patients “and we’re trying not to interfere with their treatment. Everyone is very concerned about that.”

“If they have a true emergency I advise them to go to the emergency room.”


Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Bobby_Ferrara.jpg Ferrara comes home after life in the ring

    Former New Castle resident Bob Ferrara has spent much of his 77 years inside a boxing ring. A Pittsburgh Golden Gloves champion in 1958, Ferrara — who was known then as Bobby Ferry — continued to find success long after leaving his hometown for the sunny skies of Tucson, Ariz.

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • VerySpecial.jpg Jameson Hoyt Atrium display spotlights artwork of special needs kids and adults

    Artwork from dozens of area students will take center stage Thursday in the Hoyt Atrium of Jameson Hospital. The Very Special Arts exhibit will kick off with an opening reception at 5 p.m., and the works will remain on display in the glass-enclosed walkway through Oct. 4.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • DougDanko.jpg Census shows county population getting older

    Lawrence County’s population continues to get older. However, it is not alone, as Pennsylvania overall is aging.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • backpackproject.jpg Councilman picks up tab to help lunch program

    Participants of a local summer feeding program are eating this week courtesy of New Castle City Councilman Tim Fulkerson. On Friday morning, the truck dispatched from New Castle to pick up about 3,500 pounds of items from the Pittsburgh Food Bank broke down as it arrived at its destination.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • CRESTVIEW.jpg Outreach: Churches plan to host picnic for residents of Crestview Gardens

    Volunteers from several area churches are banding together in hopes of bringing peace to a troubled neighborhood.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • money.jpg Council OKs funds to remove dead trees

    New Castle City Council has approved spending funds from its contingency account to remove some trees at Darlington Park. Marshall Tree Experts of Ellwood City has given an estimate of $12,000 to remove the large elm trees from the Mahoningtown park.


    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • 12.jpg Photo Gallery, Story: Night light

    The balloons may have been on the ground but spirits were soaring.


    July 25, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • StateFair.jpg 'State Fair' coming to Playhouse

    The fair is coming to town. No, not the Lawrence County Fair, although that is right around the corner. This is the Iowa State Fair, and it will be live on the stage of the New Castle Playhouse for three weeks, starting Friday night.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • accountant.jpg DeLorenzo’s status with authority unchanged

    Deno DeLorenzo’s status as a contract employee with the New Castle Sanitation Authority remains unchanged. Authority board members met with DeLorenzo last week regarding an investigation by the Lawrence County district attorney’s office involving Shenango Township funds.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shooting.jpg Detroit area man dies in Ellwood City gunfire

    A triple shooting in an Ellwood City street has claimed the life of a Detroit area man. Gunfire erupted in the middle of Loop Street outside the Walnut Ridge housing project around 10:20 p.m. Sunday, according to state police.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to authorize Speaker John Boehner to sue President Obama for allegedly overstepping his legal authority with the way he's handled Obamacare. Good call?

Yes. Obama's been overstepping his authority since day one in office. It's time he pay the piper.
No. The allegations are ridiculous and the law suit is a waste of time and tax payer money.
I don't know. I'm not a huge fan of Obama, but the suit seems a little extreme.
     View Results