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DR. KOOSHIAN: WOTTA GUY!

What conscience! The idea of Virgil Opinion "wiping tears from his eyes" and stating, "my conscience is killing me" almost made me laugh (R. Scott Moxley's "'My Conscience Is Killing Me,'" July 27). I have been a patient of Dr. Steven Kooshian's for more than seven years, served on the board of a local AIDS charity with him, and observed firsthand the pain he suffers when he can no longer help a patient. I've also seen the endless hours of community service and the countless patients he treats for no charge. Even during his own life-threatening bout with cancer a few years ago, he continued to provide and care for those people who mean the most to him: his patients. This is not a doctor who would shortchange someone on their medication.

What does Opinion give to his community? Nothing that I'm aware of. His allegations are laughable. While it's true Dr. Kooshian lives in a beautiful home, we have frequently discussed investments and particularly the stock market. More than once he has told me, "This is where I make my money, not medicine, although few people know that." Medicine—helping people—is still his first love.

I, for one, smell a rat, and Mr. Opinion and his attorneys should know better. Dr. Kooshian is not a bad doctor. I stand ready to testify on his behalf if needed.

Captain R. Chris Prilliman
via e-mail

Until a year ago, I was a hepatitis patient with good insurance being treated by Steven Kooshian. Therefore, I am alarmed by the statement made by Virgil Opinion in Moxley's article: "He always wanted the patient shortchanged, especially HIV and hepatitis patients with good insurance." Two years ago when Dr. Kooshian handed me the surprise diagnosis of hepatitis C, I began taking interferon and ribavarin, which are purchased as a kit for home administration by the patient—yes, the patient, not the doctor, administers the required thrice-weekly shots. So, Virgil, how is Dr. Kooshian able to shortchange the patient? During my six months of drug treatment, I, too, became severely anemic. (Ribavarin kills the red cells in the blood and the bone marrow.) Dr. Kooshian said he was tempted to give me a shot of epogen but suggested that I lower the dose of the ribavarin instead. I did this, and we continued to track my red blood cells until they had clearly rebounded, and I felt better.

Virgil: I guess Dr. Kooshian let one get away, huh? If he's so greedy and dishonest, why didn't he suggest lowering the ribavarin dose and give me a shot of saline disguised as epogen, thus raking in a tidy profit to help pay for his Porsches? And Moxley: When did it become criminal to own more than one Porsche or live in a gated community? Hell, it seems like half the people in Orange County either live in gated communities or should live in one. Perhaps your motto should be "Journalism so yellow a monkey would eat it."

You did hint at some objectivity but only at the end of your article when you asked Virgil, "If he believed Kooshian had been defrauding and jeopardizing patients for 11 years, why didn't he quit earlier?" Were you suggesting that Virgil might be just another disability scammer? Well, it came too late and was too subtle to counterbalance the crucifixion that preceded it.

Though Moxley's article was distressing to me and, I fear, irreparably damaging to Dr. Kooshian, in all other aspects I love the OC Weekly. Life behind the Orange Curtain would be poorer without it. I have been a steady reader of Moxley's previous articles harpooning the power utilities, slum lords and right wingers in general. This time, instead of the white whale, he hit the white knight.

If it would increase my chances for publication, in keeping with the journalistic style of the Weekly, I would be happy to pepper the above with a plethora of swear words.

Gary Rogers
Laguna Beach

Virgil Opinion has been a friend for six years. Two years ago, I told him, "My partner is very ill. I want to know who the very best doctor in the LA/Orange County area is and how can I get in touch with him." Without hesitation, Virgil stated, "Dr. Kooshian. I will get you in right away."

I don't know what this is about, but Virgil and I know it's not about Kooshian's competency. This whole thing smells of "disgruntled employee."

Tim Beale
executive editor, The Bottom Line Magazine
Palm Springs

Thanks, Moxley, for the wonderful investigative reporting on behalf of the gay community. It's reassuring to know that someone does give a shit. So many times, our community is afraid of pointing fingers and naming names, afraid the rich won't give to certain charities, or, worse, afraid of offending the big-money folks that help to float our community.

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