Brian Clement, the director of the Florida health spa that treated Makayla Sault and another First Nations girl suffering from leukemia, has been ordered to stop practising medicine without a licence and fined for representing himself as a medical doctor.
In documents obtained by CBC News, Florida’s Department of Health say they have probable cause to believe the director of the Hippocrates Health Institute treated two children battling leukemia "with unproven and possibly dangerous therapies."
In July, 11-year-old Makayla Sault attended the Hippocrates Health Institute after leaving chemotherapy at McMaster Children's Hospital in Hamilton.
Makayla died last month, after suffering a relapse of leukemia. Her death is currently being investigated by Ontario's coroner's office.
J.J. is another 11-year-old girl with leukemia who left chemotherapy to attend the Hippocrates institute last August. Her identity can’t be revealed because of a publication ban.
Her mother told CBC News that she was convinced her daughter should abandon chemotherapy after speaking with Clement.
"By him saying, ‘Oh yes, no problem we can help her,’ that's the day I stopped the chemo."
Clement denies having said this to the girl’s mother.
She says J.J. was treated with laser therapy, vitamins administered intravenously and a strict raw food diet that she was advised to maintain for two years.
A letter from Florida health authorities hand-delivered to Clement and dated Feb. 10, 2015, orders him to "cease and desist" and accuses him of misrepresenting himself as a medical doctor. Clement has been ordered to pay a fine of $3,738 US and was given 30 days to respond.
The investigation is continuing and the Department of Health warns, "This citation does not prevent other administrative, civil or criminal prosecution."
Practising medicine without a licence is a felony in Florida, and if convicted Clement could face a range of penalties including jail time.
Former employees suing Clement
CBC News has spoken to former employees who are pursuing legal action against Clement. Steven Pugh worked as a nurse at the Hippocrates Health Institute and claims he was fired for speaking up about Clement practising medicine, including prescribing treatments to patients facing serious illnesses.
He says he was concerned that Clements, and his wife, Anna Maria, were giving false hope to patients.
"They would use the word cure. 'We're going to cure your illness,’" Pugh says. Hippocrates is licensed as a "massage establishment," and neither of the Clements is a licensed medical doctor, though both have referred to themselves as doctors with clients.
Prior to CBC’s investigation, the Clements used "Dr." to describe themselves on the institute’s website, but have since deleted those titles.
Degrees from ‘diploma mill’
Clement claims to have a doctorate of naturopathic medicine and a PhD in nutrition from the University of Science Arts and Technology (USAT), based in Montserrat.
However, USAT president OrienTulp said, "Brian Clement, he is not a naturopathic doctor from USAT. I can guarantee that. He shouldn’t be making false claims for one. If he is, I’ll withdraw his degree."
George Gollin, a professor at the University of Illinois who has investigated USAT, calls it a diploma mill.
"It’s horrible," Gollin says. "I could have printed him a degree on a laser printer and it would be … just as indicative of training and skills. What I think is terrible is that he’s using this, as I understand it, to treat patients who are desperately sick children."
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