Crow Tribe calls for hospital director’s ouster

By Matthew Brown
Billings, Montana (AP) September 2010

Leaders of the Crow Tribe last week called for the ouster of the clinical director at the reservation’s government-run hospital because of his conviction on drug distribution charges 27 years ago.

Tribal leaders approved a resolution saying Dr. A. Scott Devous should be removed immediately by the Indian Health Service, the federal agency that runs the Crow/Northern Cheyenne Hospital.

They also asked for an agency audit of the IHS unit that serves the tribe, saying medical staff have resisted reforms proposed by the unit’s new chief executive officer.

IHS area director Pete Conway referred questions about the tribe’s allegations to IHS headquarters in Washington, D.C. Agency spokesman Thomas Sweeney said a written response will be sent to the tribe but he would not offer further details.

Devous did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Records show the doctor voluntarily relinquished his license to practice medicine in Wyoming in 1983, just before his indictment on federal drug charges. He was incarcerated after a jury found him guilty of abusing the painkiller Demerol and passing the drug to a girlfriend.

Devous was released in 1984 and his license was reinstated three years later. But he ran into trouble again after returning to Wyoming in 1990, according to records obtained by The Associated Press. After failing to notify officials that he was resuming work in the state, a condition of his re-licensing, Devous’ license was suspended for 90 days.

The Wyoming State Board of Medical Examiners later issued a public reprimand to Devous for stockpiling Demerol and failing to justify prescriptions for large quantities of drugs given to some patients.

Those allegations were overturned in state district court as “unsupported by substantial evidence” after Devous filed a lawsuit against the medical board. The court upheld his 90-day suspension.

Devous has been licensed in Montana since 1989 and was appointed clinical director at the IHS hospital in 2009.

Crow Chairman Cedric Black Eagle said in a recent letter to the state’s congressional delegation that the tribe was “appalled” Devous was overseeing medical care for his tribe.

“The level of irresponsibility of placing someone with Dr. Devous’ background in this position is unspeakable,” Black Eagle said. “Dr. Devous is unfit to practice medicine on our people, to supervise other physicians who practice medicine on our people.”

The 24-bed Crow/Northern Cheyenne Hospital serves members of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne tribes and is located in Crow Agency, about 50 miles southeast of Billings.