Dr. Fisher and Mr. Hyde

He's been the Valley's most prominent AIDS doctor. But now Ken Fisher faces charges that threaten his reputation and his career.

BOMEX also conducted a review of Fisher's files to see if the doctor had a chaperone present in each examination. The investigator found 59 files which did not document the presence of a chaperone, although some of the files "implied" a chaperone's presence, he told the board.

However, two of Fisher's former employees, Debra Barrios and Jody DeMarco, say that the doctor often examined patients without a chaperone present in violation of the order.

Barrios, who worked as a managerial assistant in the practice from 1994 to mid-1996, remembers one occasion when she saw that Fisher was seeing patients alone.

"I'd tell the MA [Medical Assistant, who was supposed to be with Fisher in the examination], 'What are you doing? You've got to be in there with him,'" she says. "I told him, 'I don't care if you have to walk arm-in-arm with him, you've got to be in there with him.'"

After Barrios left, DeMarco, who did lab work and other duties in the practice from late 1995 to mid-1996, says the duty of seeing that patients were chaperoned fell to her, but she wasn't told why at first. Finally, she says, the office manager told her Fisher could lose his practice if he didn't have the chaperones.

But having someone with Fisher at all times during examinations was impossible, she says.

"For one thing, there was so much work to be done, there was no way a person could just stand there twiddling their thumbs," she says. "I'd get yelled at if I didn't have someone in there with him, and I'd say, 'Fine, hire someone.'"

For another thing, DeMarco says, Fisher would tell his employees to leave if they did stay in the examination room.

"If you did try to chaperone, you'd get kicked out," she says. "The office manager is there yelling at you that you've got to be in there, and you go in there and the doctor tells you to get the hell out. And one of these guys writes the checks, and the other guy signs the checks, so what are you supposed to do?"

Barrios and DeMarco have not been contacted by BOMEX, they say.
Fisher's attorney, Calvin Raup, says that Fisher did have a chaperone present at all times, and that BOMEX is simply raising questions about how carefully Fisher kept records. "It is a documentation issue," he says.

After hearing from the investigator at the September meeting, BOMEX voted to proceed with a formal complaint against Fisher, which could result in suspension or revocation of his license to practice medicine after a hearing before an administrative law judge. The complaint has not yet been drafted, according to Donna Nemer, BOMEX's ombudsman. Once the complaint is drafted, a hearing must be held within 120 days, and once the judge has made his findings, the board can then choose to accept or reject them.

There have been other sightings of the other Fisher. Three other former patients of Fisher's spoke to New Times, but didn't complain to BOMEX. They echoed the type of complaints BOMEX's investigator found, and they were not limited to gay men.

Chris Kohler, a straight man and a former construction worker now on disability, says Fisher never molested him, but did make inappropriate comments. Kohler, who is HIV-positive, found another doctor.

"He was the only doctor I know where you'd go in with a sore throat and he'd check your balls," Kohler says. He began seeing Fisher in 1986, and while he praises the doctor's skill, he says he simply became too uncomfortable with Fisher's innuendoes.

"I've accepted gay people," Kohler says. "Being infected when I was, in the '80s, you have to, because back then everybody thought this was only a gay disease. . . . But he's trying to pick me up when I'm trying to get medical attention."

The real Ken Fisher isn't reflected in the accusations against him, according to his defenders. And they say he will fight to prove it.

Calvin Raup, Fisher's attorney, says Fisher is "a good man . . . who has been very badly served" by the accusations against him.

Raup says that the months of the investigation and the shadow it has drawn over Fisher's practice have taken a heavy, personal toll on Fisher.

About March of last year, Fisher took time out from his practice to attend two different psychological evaluation and treatment programs, Raup says. He left Phoenix for a period of several months for the therapy.

Fisher also filed for personal and corporate bankruptcy last year; Raup says the financial troubles stem from Fisher's extended absence from the practice. However, Fisher continues to treat patients, though he does not keep the same workaholic schedule he once did.

"He is doing all this stuff when it would be far simpler to just walk away," Raup says. "He could fold his corporation, he could allow the bankruptcy court to eliminate all the obligations that he has, but he's chosen to stay in there and fight. He's trying to . . . continue to minister to the HIV-positive population, and he's got this crap he's got to deal with."

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