Close friend remembers Dr. Graham one year after death

“To not have him to talk to or to bounce things off of is just.. it’s just so weird. I mean I still find myself wanting to text him or call him and just ask him advice and things like that,” said Dr. A.J. Mencias, a close friend of Dr. Todd Graham.

One year after the tragic death Dr. Graham, Dr. A.J. Mencias, one of Dr. Graham’s best friends says this past year was unlike anything he and his colleagues have experienced before.

“I don’t think I walked into our Elm Road building without thinking about what happened to him and just how we will never really see his face again is just.. it’s just been tough,” said Mencias.

Dr. Graham was shot and killed outside of his workplace at South Bend Orthopaedics after refusing to prescribe opioids to a patient. His death gained national attention and shined a spotlight on the opioid epidemic. It even caused lawmakers to step up to tackle the issue.

“I rise today in support of HR 6110, The Doctor Todd Graham Pain Management Treatment and Recovery Act. The bill is named after my friend Dr. Todd Graham,” said Rep. Jackie Walorski, Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District.

Congresswoman Jackie Walorski introduced a bill in Dr. Graham’s name that would combat the opioid epidemic by improving access to non-opioid pain treatments. Three months later in June, that bill was passed by congress.

Walorski sent a statement to ABC 57 News remembering her friend dr. Graham:

“Dr. Graham was a pillar of our community who always put his patients first. His tragic death was a reminder of the terrible toll the opioid epidemic is taking on Hoosiers. My thoughts are with his wife Julie and his entire family today. I’m honored to help build on Dr. Graham’s legacy with legislation named in his memory to help combat opioid abuse and expand access to non-addictive alternative pain treatments.”

Since the tragedy, Mencias says the medical community has stepped up in their own ways to reduce opioid prescriptions for patients.

“There has been a shift in surgeon’s beliefs, patient’s beliefs, anesthesiologists beliefs on literally trying to reduce the amount of opioids people use after surgeries and injuries. I’m still holding steady with my protocol in my office of limiting how much narcotic medication comes out of our office,” said Mencias. “I don’t know if Todd’s death is serving a greater good, I think we would all just wish that he was still here but, people have, I think, changed and our attitudes toward opioids have definitely changed I mean there’s no doubt that our attitudes as just a group of physicians in this community has changed towards opioids because of Todd’s death.”

Mencias tells ABC 57 that alternatives for opioids are consistently being discussed among those in the medical community and certainly being put to use.

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