As Knoxville Health and Wellness opened their doors to their new location in Downtown Knoxville Thursday morning, dozens of patients were there. At the same those patients walked in, half a dozen Knoxville Police squad cars sat outside the pain clinic, including Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch.
At one point, Rausch had a conversation with the pain clinic's management telling them essentially "We're not going to tolerate this kind of stuff in our community."
The City of Knoxville basically shut down Knoxville Health and Wellness last week at their former location on Middlebrook Pike because of a zoning violation. Since then, they've opened a new location at the corner of Main Street and S. Central Avenue.
Despite initially wanting an on-camera interview, clinic co-owner Ron Colandrea ultimately declined an interview with 10News. Thursday, clinic staff didn't have much to say either. Colandrea once worked at a Florida pain clinic that was shut down by the state. While at the facility, he worked with a man named Wayne Richards, an individual currently facing federal charges as part of what prosecutors call a multimillion dollar drug conspiracy in South Florida.
"You talked to the doctor the other day," a man who worked security at the Middlebrook location told 10News.
"Is he working today?" we asked.
"I don't know if that one is in to tell you the truth," he said.
At this point, nobody with the clinic faces any criminal charges in Knox County. Throughout the day, Knoxville police kept close tabs on the clinic as patrolmen cycled through the neighborhood, seemingly on a loop around the facility.
Despite no sign and only having the location for a few days, dozens of patients found their way to the clinic.
"Well, that's the one I want to tell you. Everybody thinks like how this thing goes around," the clinic worker said. "We keep a phone list and call our patients to let them know where we are and when we're open."
A source who wished to remain unidentified told 10News several dozen patients sat in a waiting room inside the clinic's doors. Brown, opaque paper lines the front windows of the facility.
That source said the facility remains cash only, charged patients $350 for their initial visit. With such a strong police presence, staff debated inside if they should continue taking new patients or deny new visitors for some period of time.
Still, the clinic staff member who engaged Knoxville Police in several conversations denied any knowledge of how the clinic operated.
"I am in charge of absolutely nothing. If you saw my paycheck, you'd reach into your pocket and hand me a couple of dollars," the clinic worker said.
The Knoxville clinic appears to be one of a chain of three different clinics in the Southeast. Their website mentions other locations in both Atlanta and Brunswick, Georgia.