BRANDON, Fla. (WFLA) — Women continue to desperately seek out their mammogram records from the owner of the now defunct Women’s Diagnostic Center in Brandon. The records, thousands of them, are locked away in a storage unit in Pinellas County.
“You can’t even leave a message on his phone,” said Nancy Winebrenner, who has been trying to get her mammogram records since May. “He won’t even answer my doctor’s calls.”
The center abruptly shut down in Oct. 2015, yet its Facebook page still has messages from a growing list of women begging for their records. Several contacted 8 On Your Side and after our report aired earlier this month, more women called Better Call Behnken for help. Winebrenner said does not know where else to go.
And neither does Lauren McGinn. She’s been trying to get her records since March and says her doctor needs them to compare her most recent mammogram. She may have to wait six months and have another mammogram, so her doctor has something to compare. That, she said, could put her at risk, even though her doctor should be able to compare mammograms now.
“This isn’t right,” she said. “These records do not belong to the this man.”
But right now, the only way to get records from Women’s Diagnostic Center is to go through the owner, John Parker. He lists an email address on the company Facebook page and directs women to email him. Sometimes, he responds and agrees to meet them in unprofessional places, like parking lots of Starbucks and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Parker told 8 On Your Side earlier this month that the center was successful since 1988 but closed because of financial problems after investing in new technology. He says he’s trying to give records back and even tried to transfer records to another imaging facility in the area, but was turned away from several.
Federal law requires facility that close to notify patients and then release documents to them or to another facility. Parker said when he was unable to do that, he secured the documents, as the law requires. He says he has met patients with more than 3,000 files and has the rest – he would not say exactly how many – sitting in a storage facility in Pinellas County.
“We then did everything that we could do to transfer the records to another imaging facility in the market. we were told no,” Parker said. “I am not trying to hide. I want to do the right thing.”
Jay Wolfson, a medical doctor, lawyer and professor at The University of South Florida, calls what Parker is doing against federal healthcare laws.
“The man who own’s the clinic is not a physician,” Wolfson said. “Driving around with those records in his vehicle is outrageous.”
Wolfson says the state needs to do something about this.
“The department of health and the board of medicine, it’s time for them to step in now that they’ve been alerted and take control of those records and make sure that all of the women who have their names in those records are protected,” Wolfson said.
In the meantime, 8 On Your Side brought this to the attention of state officials at the Florida Department of Health. Officials say the state could step in and contract with a third-party company to reunite files for women. They ask all women having trouble getting their documents to file a complaint here.
WFLA.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.