Former Southern Humboldt Doctor’s Medical License Suspended Following Drug Charges

Wendi Joiner, former Southern Humboldt Physician and Medical Director of Redwoods Rural Health Center, had her license to practice medicine suspended in November. Subsequently, she has been fired from her position at Marin Community Clinics.

Joiner was arrested for a DUI in December of 2014. In her vehicle was found a “large quantity of controlled substances” prescribed by her to another person, three bottles of whiskey (one partially consumed in the front seat) and nine cases boxes of nitrous oxide cartridges (along with several dispensed containers in the center console.)

The Medical Board of California began an investigation which found that the drugs were prescribed to a fictitious person. Joiner’s license was suspended.

Joiner served in the Southern Humboldt area until 2012. She had been scheduled for maternity leave when she accepted a position in Marin and resigned. She was once featured in an NPR piece on telemedicine.

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77 comments

  • Featured in a MPR post. Not NPR.

    Aka Minnestota Public Radio.

  • River runs through it

    What a waste!!!! To come that far in life with such hard work and dedication to just throw it all away on some pills and nitrous?

    • Lets not forget that whiskey, its the original gateway drug.

      • Stupidity is the ONLY gateway drug. Blaming anything else is simply ignorance. Sorry Scooter, nothing personal.

        • Lost Croat Outburst

          Point taken, Ernie. Tobacco, and caffeine are “gateway” drugs under the “gateway” theory. Under the stupid ” gateway” theory, the favorite drugs of the masses are not counted. Convenient. Scooter might know that, but we don’t have a sarcasm font.

  • Typical of Humco druggie lifestyle promoted by websites like this one.

  • We all have demons, sometimes the demons win. What a sad commentary on an otherwise wonderful person. She was my Doctor.

    I remember her compassion at an auto accident where I was a fire department first responder.

  • She’s a really good doctor and a compassionate person. I hope she is recovering and can someday get her license back.

  • What a waste – what happened that changed her life so? Physicians have one of the most stressful jobxs – just read this: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/806779-overview

  • I wasn’t aware that forging prescriptions, binging on nitrous and driving drunk were what the “good people” were doing these days. Maybe in reality she is a bad person who happens to be personable. She didn’t get “caught up” in anything. She did this, well aware of the consequences.

    • Perfect explanation! She wrote those scripts bought the nitros oxide, bought and drank the whiskey while driving, she is a complete failure as a doctor and and even worse human, she could have killed me or one of my family… And she knows better! You can sugar coat this for this so- hum girl but these are her “choices” life is about making choises, look how she chose to live… Reality folks.

    • sometimes things happen.

      Sometimes life isn’t always just about the choices people make. I don’t believe that she decided to just flush her career and life down the toilet. What I do believe is that things changed after she had her baby. Childbirth is tough for every woman, but some women end up going through thing like post pardum depression , bipolar disorder and other medical problems . Don’t judge her. Pray for her. You haven’t walked in her shoes.

      • i agree with sometimes things happen…..no one wakes up and says i want to be an alcoholic/addict. It happens in all walks of life, and more so with medical professionals than most want to admit….anesthesiologists have the highest risk for abuse and suicide. Yes, she made a choice, and it was the wrong one. Stop judging her, pray for her that she gets help. been there, done that…..and have come out the other side…….it’s a long road, thank God, she and her baby are okay, and that she didn’t hurt anybody. Humans are not perfect by nature…we make mistakes and hopefully learn from them.

      • What I see is endless excuse making for someone who was the best in position to get help for her problems, but chose to drive drunk and abuse drugs instead, only lucking out in not killing or injuring anyone. Plenty of women who suffer from postpartum depression avoid drunk driving and illegal prescription drug abuse as well. One doesn’t have to be perfect to condemn irresponsible behavior. The negative truth of what she did speaks for itself. All the excuse making in the world doesn’t change that.

        • I agree. She was my doctor once and she was nice but nice does not give you a free pass. If this was just someone you didn’t know most people would be outraged and glad that she is being held accountable. She could have killed herself and others. Your family or friends, driving or in clinic. Her addiction is not something that happened in one night. This is a doctor not a frat boy. Sure I feel bad for her, bad for her poor choices. She has a baby on top of it. That is not going to get you mother of the year. I hear a lot of pity but accountability for being an addict, for getting boozed and doped up then cruising around like a downtown Eureka party on wheels with pills that you FORGED the prescription for and nitrous that was STOLEN while you have a baby at home and are supposed to be responsible for other people’s lives is beyond just SAD. It is frankly disgusting. I hope she gets it together after jail and probation and drug rehab and AA and CPS and whatever else everyone else in the real world has to go through after they do something like this.

          • Where do you get that she stole anything? This was not part of the article. You, sir, are incorrect.
            I was a patient of Dr. Joiner’s for many years. Not two or three but four going on five years. I followed her around from practice to practice often driving hours each direction just to keep her as my doctor. During this time I saw her every three months for a couple years, then every single month for the remainder.
            When I wondered in out the cold to see her for the first time I had lost my job a couple of months prior and I had just lost my home. I was homeless staying on a friends couch. Dr. Joiner worked with me in the most compassionate and professional way possible. In fact I have never experienced such compassion and caring from any medical professional in my entire life. This includes the surgeon that literally saved my life on the operating table.
            Dr. Joiner helped me to get my life back together. I am able to hold a job again, I’m in school expanding my education and I’m no longer homeless. This would have never been possible without her help. I owe it all to her amazing care.
            When I first met her I felt completely defeated. She saved my life in a way that is perhaps different than that of my surgeon but if it weren’t for Dr. Joiner I would most likely not be around to defend her from someone accusing her of stealing something she did not. Yes, she made a mistake by driving when she shouldn’t have. Yes, she shouldn’t have forged prescriptions either. Even so, I trust her more than any other doctor in the world. Never once was she drunk or otherwise intoxicated at any of the appointments I had with her.
            If she got her license back tomorrow I would be so happy to get MY doctor back and I would see her right away. When I found out she lost her job I felt such sadness. Not just for my personal loss but for everyone in the community that lost such an amazing doctor. None of these charges changes my thoughts towards her. I still trust her implicitly with my well being, health, and life. I owe Dr. Joiner so much and I can honestly say I can’t think of a single bad thing to say about her or the way she practices medicine. I just wish I got to thank her in person, from the bottom of my heart, which is what she truly deserves. So, if you want to write a hateful comment towards her, fine. But don’t make up a GD lie about her [edit]. She is one of the best people I have ever known.

  • Such a shame!!when I worked at the liquor store a prominent Doctor came by every morning at opening to get a pint of vodka and small school sized oj and drank it in his vehicle.i was blown away.this doctor once saw me as a patient yikes.hopefully this Dr. Will get help she needs.good luck to her

    • Most doctors prefer scotch. Seriously, it is a thing.
      All the stuff they have to go thru just to have a job were every day they devote themselves to serving their fellow humans. More doctors, less hedge fund managers would be righteous.

  • We all make mistakes hopefully she can go to rehab and start over I wish her the best in her recovery

  • Wow, wow, wow. Im shocked. Ive heard she was good at prescribing meds to folks, but never anything bad with regards to her medical etiquette. Truly sucks.
    To all the folks who see life in black & white… Id like to see a synopses of your life choices & decisions made in some of your darkest hours. May you have put yourself thru yrs of schooling & training to try & become a productive member of the medical community & not fall victim to the trials & hardships some medical professionals are susceptible to & who find themselves unable to cope with…sure she should know better, but truth is, she’s human! Thankful she didnt hurt any innocent people before this was discovered.

    • Couldn’t agree more with your comment. People who write stuff about people need to take a hard look at all their own screw ups and don’t for a second say you never did or made the wrong choice. All people are fallible no matter what the education level or upbringing. People who live in Glass houses should never throw stones. Peace and healing to the Doc!

      • Thank you. You said it better & in less words. Well written format. 😉

        • “Thank you. You said it better & in less words. Well written format.”

          …and thank you to those who have posted compassion and not gloated over this person’s trouble. a little humility goes a really long way.

      • See that’s the problem, they don’t live in glass houses and wouldn’t understand. They live in a world of superiority that only promotes from within.

    • Thank you, Miss Purty

  • By all accounts a successful and well-liked doctor, so sorry to hear about this. Makes you wonder what she endured to get to this point. Likely that exposure to local norms and seeing what is required to rise in the ranks drove her to this. Looks like a really nice lady, hope she recovers.

  • I wonder if they meant “boxes” instead of “cases”. A case of whippets contains 24 BOXES. So if she really had 9 cases then her whole vehicle must have been full to the roof. I know this because I was young once…

  • I know it was the right thing to do, but it must be devastating to be facing criminal charges and lose your job. I feel terrible for her. I truly hope she can rebound.

  • Wow so many doctors are druggies. we really need to stop doctors from over prescribing pain meds, a lot of times they r writing scripts for patients and they end up taking the drugs to sell or use…

  • Sobs, heartfelt sympathy, an outpouring of compassion, forgiveness. Must be a woman who was arrested. Men who make mistakes and cross societal lines dont seem to elicit those sort of responses.

  • Wow. But for the grace of God, go I.

  • Remember we take trust in the healing of Doctors and that they get it right,it’s our lives in their hands.I prefer a sober and clean Doctor,with a clear head making a decision on life and death.sorry that’s just me,and I like livin

  • If drugs were legal she wouldn’t have a problem.

  • This woman is a good and decent person and like all of us not without her problems. I have every reason to believe she will overcome her current problems and will be back taking care of patients with the tireless devotion to her practice she has had in the past. Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone.

  • Most people will never understand the grip opiates get on people. It goes far far beyond a choice. Many people start innocently enough with a legitimate prescription for pain medication. If you are tangled up in the opiate mess, I would recommend finding a doctor who can prescribe suboxone. It will give you a chance to crawl out of the hole you are in, the hole you probably are just barely aware that you are in.

    • Thank you. I went through this and suboxone saved my life. although I’m an expat now I’m still able to get the prescription in my country, luckily.

  • I find this to be very sad. Alcohol, drugs and nitrous. Pretty serious stuff. I hope she is able to get the help she needs and get back on her feet again. Something serious happened in her life for this to happen. Post pregnancy depression? Good luck Doctor.

  • Don’t do suboxone its worse than anything.

    • No, it’s better than everything out there to get a person off heroine or other pain killers. It is def a life saver for a lot of people I know. Maybe you didn’t have a good experience with it, if you have at all, but to say its worse than anything is false and you should not be writing it.

  • I am relieved to know that her license has been suspended. A family member was in a support group at RRHC for people using suboxone (sp?) trying to kick even worse drugs. ‘Dr.’ Joiner was the physician in charge. She gave my addicted family member a combined prescription for 120 pills of Soma and 80 of Atarax. By the time a neighbor intervened and called me, 46 Soma were left and 40 of Atarax were left. I believe all of these pills were injested within a day or so. I have been wondering: what kind of a doctor prescribes so much medication to a known addict? Now I know. I hope ‘Dr.’ Joiner receives the help she has needed for many years. I hope her own child is never put in the life threatening situation that, not only my grandchild; but great-grandchild (an infant at the time) was subjected to. Sometimes the face of addiction is a that of physician who looks like ‘the girl next door’. I hope ‘Dr.’ Joiner answers her ‘wake-up call’, and takes action toward health.

    • No way would your family member be alive if he/she took close to 80 somas ( muscle relaxers) in a day or two. Don’t blame the doctor for your family member doing something so stupid.

      • Grace…I’m sure the kid sold some of the pills that were gone. Of course she didn’t take them all. But you have to admit it really WAS too many pills to prescribe. Way way too many.

    • My opiate addicted son Adam died after being prescribed a basket of pills by Dr Joiner. Even though she knew he was on suboxone . I hope she gets some help, and am glad she has lost her licence

      • I saw her 3 times . And I am so conflicted as it appeared I was Rx’d such I high level of Morpine and had no idea ? I was drinking coffee all day !!! I alas demanded to go back to my dose my long term Dr had me on and it no longer worked . We did another MRI and it is that I injured myself as I could feel NOTHING ?
        It really was I had NO IDEA ?? I entrusted my pain management to the practice for many years with another Doc .
        She seemed kind compassionate and I think if she looked she would have seen my regular dose !!
        My quality of life as a result of the fall out is awful . I once had a quality of life !! That is what this is about !! Now the new Doc seems to ignore me ?? Days I am in such pain I can hardly walk or stand or sit ! When the MRI said ” RECENT ” I knew what happened !!
        When I was alas back to the different Meds they no longer worked ?? And I went ” OMG I have a bigger problem now ” !! I was at stasis for years !! And it is that I had NO IDEA !! Tiny little pills and NEVER would my long term Doc do that !! So, I never felt the need to look ? When I finally got back to what I was on and knew I had a bigger problem ! I looked down with glasses on and went OMG !!!! There was the issue !! More tha DBL my normal dose !!!!!
        Seems I injured myself as I felt NOTHING !! Pain Management is so we can have a quality of life and feel when we are hurting ourselves !! It is NOT so we are so medicated you can’t know when you hurt yourself ? I am at this for a lot of years due to a nearly fatal accident at 22 years old .
        While she was so kind and compassionate I wish she would have payed better attention to my dose !! As I suppose I assumed she would ! The Doc before her always did and would never have me that medicated !! I put my care in the practice hands !!
        This just has turned my life upside down !!
        I think addicts will do what they do !! It has been this way for years . I think responsible pain management is just that !!
        I can say that the 32 year old man should not have been Rx’d the Meds !! A real tangle the whole thing ! I saw her last NOV 13 2015 . She was not really present as I was asking for another MRI ! I knew something recent changed !!

    • Simone I would like the opportunity to speak to you. I’m a lawyer in San Francisco representing someone who had an experience similar to yours – please google me and send me a note.
      David Fiol.

  • She was my doc years ago. And a very smart and compassionate one. I hope for her speedy recovery.

    Addiction is a disease. No one is immune but I think doctors have higher rates of it than other professions?

    Like diabetes or cancer, there are treatments. Reducing the stigma and getting more treatment facilities will help those with addiction.

  • Read the Marin article? More drug charges pending from a Dec 4th arrest. Get some help woman!

  • Y’all should look up the statistics on doctors and drug abuse most of you would probably be surprised. But what should we expect after all a large part of the money making in the MD profession is selling drugs to people and all hospitals get pharmaceutical kick backs to the toon of 10s of billions a year. Gos to show even (medicine) can be bad when over used or used for the wrong reasons. This whole country has a serious drug problem, one of the worst on the planet.

  • So she is a doctor. Is she a good doctor? That is all that should matter. What she does on her own time is up to her. As long as it doesn’t affect her work.

  • She knows how to party I guess.

  • Urban Farmer said:
    “Oh, ok.
    It’s a tragedy she was caught up in such a twisted web. Never would’ve suspected it one bit.”

    Caught up? In a web? It looks like she created the twisted web….she caught herself. She’s cute, she’s nice and that probably didn’t serve her well. I’m sure people tried to protect her. I wonder how many tried to help her?

  • Are you kidding me? I went to the Redwoods Rural Health Center and I saw Dr. Joiner at least one of those times! I was treated hatefully by several staff members there – not just awfully, not just rudely, not just disgustingly, but hatefully. Now we’re finding out she was on drugs, alcohol, and nitrous oxide (again, are you kidding me?!)
    During the time I was a patient there, some of the incidents that occurred:
    I called to complain about the way a nurse had treated me while drawing blood. They gave the phone to him and he thought he’d transferred me back but hadn’t; he proceeded to describe me to the other nurses in quite obscene terms, calling me the B word and using the S and F words. Because the phone was still in his pocket, I heard every word.
    Upon entering the office, a sign on the door proclaimed that to protect against the spread of H1N1, everyone was to wash their hands after touching their nose, mouth, or face. When I started to fill out the paperwork, the lady at the front desk said there was another form I needed to fill out. There was a stack of forms stuck together. To separate them, she licked her finger, getting it wet with spit, then used her spit-upon finger to separate them. I had to insist that she wash her hands and get me a new form, and instead of agreeing with me, she argued.
    I believe Dr. Joiner was the one I was going to see when these incidents occurred. The entire office lacked cleanliness and professionalism, and several staff members were obviously meth users. I no longer go to this office, and now that the truth has come out, I will be writing a complaint letter.

  • Worked for MANY DOCS in the 90’s !!! A lot are addicted !! I coin that this Doc helped me !!!
    And I am in recovery !! The whole of the profession is STRESSFUL !!! I well know that !!
    I worked for private Docs and they just had each other write their Rx’s !!
    I saw her maybe 5 times and SHE HEARD ME !!!! You may never know unless you work in it !! I am also a single mom ! We are ALL HUMAN including Docs !!
    She was fantastic & compassionate and treated me with dignity and really was a HUGE HELP !! I was shocked not surprised !
    HIGH RISK !! We ask a Doc to see that many people in a day & see how stressed out you might be before casting judgement !!
    I would like to give her a HUG AND THANK HER !!!
    How bout that !!!
    From a woman in recovery !! And further , until you know what REAL PAIN IS !!?? I nearly had my leg torn off !!! I KNOW WHAT PAIN IS !!!!! So, when this is done responsibly I think those who abused this should SAVE IT !!
    I am so tired of people commenting on PAIN that HAVE NO IDEA !!! So, I am saying SHE HEARD ME !! She saw the MRI’S !!!!!
    And I know a short experience of 5 visitis ? She was GREAT WITH ME !!
    Two issues !! Until you work with patients ALL DAY LONG WITH NO BREAK AND GO HOME TO A TODDLER OR INFANT ??? Well, been there !!
    Until you nearly have your leg torn off your body as you flew threw the air 40′ and landed as if KING KONG threw you & they nearly sawed off your leg thigh down !? Then you HAVE NO IDEA !!!
    I hope for her to return !!! And in recovery I sought everything from USLA to UCSF to treat my pain !! And it is NOT TO GET HIGH !!!!!!!! Try waking up in the morning unable to even crawl !!!! Crawl to coffee maker in SUCH PAIN !!!! Then TALK !!!!

  • As the son of a longtime physician, the brother of a nurse, and a 20 year veteran of the fire service in Marin County where I was also a medic, I can speak to Dr. Joiner’s level of care, compassion, and professionalism. Not once did I ever see, in any of my visits with her, any evidence of drug or alcohol use while in the office environment. She has made some mistakes – we all do from time to time in our lives. I don’t believe any of her mistakes in her private life ever put any patients at risk. I’ve dealt with chronic pain since an on the job injury in 2005, which led to an early retirement. Dr. Joiner’s treatment of my pain was totally appropriate and well within the standards of care for such injuries. I hope she is successful in getting her license back.

  • Thank you !! Well said !! I had the same experience and I too worked in medical !! I had a tradgic accident in 86 ! I was young !!! Saved my life and leg !! I was told things would be HARD as I aged !!! And not once in my 3-5 visits with her did I see anything suspect !
    She was compassionate and treated my legit pain !!
    I am hopeful that your statement as a fireman and mine will stop the mudslinging at this Doc !!
    Nobody tosses away their whole career this way unless some tradgic event happened ! And yes in the office she was as it is written in transcript ” unfailingly professional ” !!!
    Not condoning DUI !! I am hopeful that those of us that actually saw her can SHUT DOWN the mean , nasty comments !!!! It is not helpful as it is past !!
    And it is my greatest hope she overcomes this as she is a FINE DOCTOR from one who has worked for many !!!!
    Thank you fireman & Doc Joiner !!
    And I am as compassionate to her as she was to me !! Many people get DUI’s !! Many fall on hard times !!! I think those who want to throw stones at this Doc clearly did not see her nor do they suffer in that level of pain !! She NEVER was a PILL DOC !! And that is not what I seek ! I take this as seriously as she did !! As did the Doc I had been with for 8 years prior and moved on !!!

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