Negligent and Incompetent Psychiatrist to be Paid $100- per hour


Published: September 08, 2008 04:00 am  

State: Psychiatrist must be monitored

By Tom Grace
Cooperstown News Bureau

Otsego County has hired a psychiatrist for the county’s Mental Health Clinic who has been disciplined for misconduct by the state Department of Health.

Dr. William Joseph Touchstone, 59, of Manlius, is under permanent restrictions imposed after it was found he failed to maintain accurate patient records, according to the DOH’s website.

He had been associated with the Cayuga County Mental Health Clinic.

The original disciplinary action came in 1998 and was modified two years later, ordering that Touchstone only “prescribe or dispense medication to patients of Cayuga County Mental Health Center and is precluded from prescribing medications for himself, family or friends.”

According to DOH spokesman Jeffrey Hammond, Touchstone was accused of practicing medicine with negligence and incompetence.

The DOH website states that he is to stay drug- and alcohol-free, to practice only in structured settings such as county clinics, and that his conduct is to be “monitored by qualified health care professionals (sobriety monitor, practice supervisor and therapist).”

According to the DOH, the accusations against Touchstone stemmed from events that occurred between 1987 and 1995 and involved several patients.

Touchstone, who has an unlisted telephone number according to, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Community Services Director Susan Dalesandro, who oversees the local clinic and recommended Touchstone, said his appointment will need to be approved by the state Office of Professional Medical Conduct.

But Dalesandro said she sees no potential problems.

“He’s had no problems whatsoever in the 10 years he has been monitored,” Dalesandro said Sunday night.

Touchstone’s appointment was approved Wednesday by the Otsego County Board of Representatives with three members, Betty Anne Schwerd, R-Burlington; James James Johnson, R-Otsego; and Kathy Clark, R-Otego, voting against it.

Friday, Schwerd said she was “appalled at this appointment of someone to take care of some of our most vulnerable residents.”

However, Rep. Donald Lindberg, R-Worcester, said Touchstone “has been in recovery many years and I think someone in recovery deserves a second chance.”

Lindberg also said that Dalesandro has done an excellent job operating the clinic and he trusts her judgment.

Rep. Greg Relic, R-Unadilla, said Touchstone will be properly supervised, by clinic and state personnel.

Board Chairman James Powers, R-Butternuts, noted that attracting psychiatrists to work in rural areas is very difficult and that providing the service in any other way than hiring someone would be prohibitively expensive.

By terms of the resolution, Touchstone will work for the county for the rest of the year will be paid $100-an-hour for a total of not more than $43,200.

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