Thursday, October 4, 2012
Carmel on the Case: Unlicensed Doctor Bust
A disgraced former chiropractor is in big trouble with the law and it's not the first time. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case with this exclusive report.
WSVN -- Fifty-three-year-old Frank Falowski was arrested on his way to work at Rainforest Medical in Tamarac.
At the same time members of the Metro Broward Drug Task Force were hitting the office with a search warrant.
Frank Falowski: "I don't know anything about this to be honest with you."
Carmel Cafiero: "You haven't been practicing medicine without a license here?"
Frank Falowski: "No, not at all."
Carmel Cafiero: You don't call yourself Dr. Frank?
Frank Falowski: "Yeah, but I don't touch a patient."
Falowski is a convicted felon. He was involved in an insurance fraud case and is currently on probation. As a result, his license as a chiropractor was revoked in 2008.
Frank Falowski: "I just work here."
Carmel Cafiero: "Who do you work for?"
Frank Falowski: "Rainforest Medical."
Carmel Cafiero: "Who is you employer?"
Frank Falowski: "Sharon Costanzo."
Sharon Costanzo was also arrested. She's listed as the owner of the clinic. And although she is a licensed nurse practitioner, she is now facing a charge of the unlicensed practice of a health care profession.
Carmel Cafiero: Did you enable Frank to operate here as a medical clinic when you know he has no license?"
Authorities spent months investigating Falowski's activities and sent agents in undercover. Two former employees told us that Falowski was the one actually running rainforest.
Stephanie Taylorson: "He would be like 'Hi, how are you? I'm Dr. Frank. I'm here to do your in-services or physical or x-ray or whatever.'"
The former employees also say Falowski provided people in the nursing field with bogus credits for continuing education.
Antionette Bagley: "He gives them a certificate. He gives them a disc. He gives them an answer sheet - tells them to go home and do the work. They never bring back answer sheets or anything and they use those certificates."
Antionette Bagley showed me seven certificates. She says Falowski gave her. Those certificates qualified her to deal with everything from AIDS and Alzheimers to operating an X-ray machine even though she never studied. She says he stamped them with Costanzo's name although she was rarely there.
Stephanie Taylorson: "Once in a blue moon she'll come into the office."
Antionette Bagley: "He doesn't sign anything because that's his way of not being involved."
And they said Falowski did everything a doctor might do.
Stephanie Taylorson: "I saw everything, the incidents, he draws blood, he takes x-rays he reads them."
Worse yet, they told us Falowski is responsible for giving health care workers a clean bill of health even though they had not been properly tested.
Antionette Bagley: "Gives them a certificate stating they are free of communicable diseases including tuberculosis."
The arrest warrants for Costanzo and Falowski, two unidentified itnesses, who have made the same kind of accusations. Authorities says it all adds to big risks for the public.
Dani Moschella: "There's a very real danger to a doctor just rubber stamping clean bills of health and training certificates for medical professionals. His clients were LPN's, certified nurse assistants, home health aids and work with the very people we would not want to expose to communicable diseases. Any infection at all of the vulnerable elderly population."
The task force now has copies of those apparently bogus certificates, which could lead to issues for people using them to work in the health care field.
As for Falowski and Costanzo, they could face felony charges which would put them both behind bars for years.
Investigators say anyone with concerns about certificates from the clinic can contact the department of health.
FL. DEPT. OF HEALTH
UNLICENSED ACTIVITY HOTLINE
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