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.

Raup attributes the accusations against Fisher to professional jealousy and revenge by some patients.

"There are people out there who are contacting his patients, who are making up stories, spreading rumors and trying to take that patient population away from him so they can have it for themselves," Raup says. "That's the kind of world we live in, unfortunately."

Raup also says that some of Fisher's former patients are mad at him because he didn't return their sexual advances.

Raup refers to a letter he received from one of Fisher's supporters, which describes "the mindset" of a terminally ill AIDS patient.

"He uses a phrase in the letter, and I have to quote, this is not a phrase that I would use, 'Hell hath no fury like a fag scorned,'" Raup says. "His message there is if a patient comes on to Dr. Fisher, and he doesn't accept their offer, whatever it may be, then they're angry.

"I can't say that that's the explanation for everything, but if you put yourself into the mindset of a gay male, rejected by his society, a gay male who is HIV-positive, who knows he's going to die, really there are very few consequences for making up a story that's not true, for exaggerating a story that has a factual basis, or for simply going for the brass ring while you've got a few days left."

Fisher is now learning that lines must be drawn in his practice that would not be necessary "in a different culture," Raup says.

But what Raup says is the worst part of the ongoing BOMEX investigation is that the man he sees as the real Ken Fisher--and the work he's done--has gotten "lost in the shuffle."

"Ken Fisher's a special guy," Raup says. "My wife and I had a friend who died almost four years ago, and because he was HIV-positive, no one wanted to treat him. . . . Everybody's afraid of AIDS, and everybody's afraid of those people. Ken Fisher's not afraid of those people; he takes care of them. . . . He can't take a vacation, he can't take a break, because no one will cover his patients. . . . If he didn't care for them, there would be thousands of people in this state who would go without medical care."

There are patients of Fisher's who still stand by him as well.
Bob, a flight attendant and a patient of Fisher's since 1986, describes the doctor as a "humble and professional man."

Bob says he's never been more comfortable with any other doctor.
"With me, he sits down and he goes over all the medications that I'm taking, tells me what kind of treatment we can do if this doesn't work. He doesn't make promises to people he can't keep, but he tries to keep you up. I think he's a wonderful man," Bob says.

He recalls going through a spinal tap--a painful and invasive diagnostic test--and having Fisher at his side through the whole ordeal.

Chaperones have also been present at each examination, Bob says.
"He acts like nothing is going on," Bob says. "When I'm in a room with him, he acts like nothing has ever happened. And I know he's gone through a lot of hell. . . . I really do admire him. He doesn't treat you like a slab of meat; he treats you like you're a person."

The controversy over Fisher has divided Phoenix's gay community, with lines being drawn between the two different versions of events surrounding Fisher.

HeatStroke, a newspaper serving the gay community, broke the story of the BOMEX investigation and has followed it. But the coverage has cost the fledgling paper some support.

One of the distributors, Unique on Central, a gift store, banned the paper from its premises, and letters to the editor in the paper and in Echo have attacked Fisher's accusers.

Doug Klinge, the owner of Unique on Central, declined to comment for this article, but in a letter to the editors of HeatStroke, he explained his decision.

"I find it disgusting and confusing that a paper with intention to inform the community would talk such noninvestigated reporting," he wrote. "This business matter should have been kept confidential about Dr. Fisher until the facts were in and the case was closed."

Kelly Reidhead, HeatStroke's managing editor and the reporter who's written the Fisher articles, admits it was a risky move to cover the inquiry.

"I think the gay community is still at the place where any criticism is seen as a betrayal, and that's unfortunate," Reidhead says.

Reidhead says his articles--which are, for the most part, flat news pieces about BOMEX's actions--aren't meant to malign Fisher, but simply air the issue.

"You never mature as a community unless you can criticize yourself," Reidhead says.

Others see the articles about the charges--as well as the charges themselves--as an attempt to destroy a good doctor and his patients.

"Why didn't anyone who felt uncomfortable or abused confront Dr. Fisher immediately and then seek out a new doctor? Why are they so self-centered not to realize all the other people they would hurt by these allegations?" one person wrote in a letter to the editor in Echo. "I had no doctor to treat my HIV and other problems for far too many months this year already."

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help
Phoenix Concert Tickets