Gov. Hickenlooper orders reforms following Denver7 health care impostors investigation

DENVER -- Governor John Hickenlooper ordered changes in protocol at the Division of Regulatory Agencies, or DORA, in the wake of a Denver7 investigation that exposed state regulators doing nothing to enforce "cease and desist" orders against people accused of practicing health care professions without a license.

The governor spoke with the Denver7 Investigates team at the governor's mansion this week.

"I wasn't aware, and I think this is the role of the media," he said of Denver7's reporting. "People aren't aware that these kinds of slips are occurring. And in some circumstances, such as what you found, they could have significant ramifications."

Denver7 asked where the breakdown in DORA occurred or if there was a breakdown at all.

"I think it was a lapse of the system," the governor said. "There was no rigorous follow-up."

Indeed, Governor Hickenlooper saw what Denver7 uncovered -- health care impostors in Colorado who may have treated you or someone you love. Among the impostors, a fake nurse named Jennifer Renee Jackson.

"You're under arrest because I believe you falsified your information there," a Commerce City police officer is heard saying on body camera video while arresting Jackson at Woodridge Terrace nursing home.

Jackson pleaded guilty in court to stealing the nursing license number that rightfully belongs to another Jennifer Jackson.

"I think she has learned the system is flawed and she's able to slip through these cracks like this over and over again," the real nurse Jackson said.

Denver7 also visited the counseling office of an unlicensed man named Randy Flynt in Pueblo.

Denver7's undercover producer met with Flynt for a free consultation, during which he said he is a "clinical psychologist."

Confronted minutes after that consultation by Denver7 investigative reporter Ryan Luby, Flynt denied having identified himself as a licensed professional. 

Ryan Luby: "Sir, you identified yourself as a clinical psychologist."

Randy Flynt: "I didn't, I'm sorry."

Luby: "We have you on tape, sir."

Both Flynt and Jackson ignored multiple cease and desist orders from state regulators telling them to stop practicing without a license.

Denver7 Investigates found 28 people issued cease and desist orders from various health care boards in Colorado in just the last three years. Denver7 could only locate criminal charges against two of those 28 for unauthorized practice under Colorado law.

Most people were never charged with any crime, according to a search of court filings.

"It's disturbing," Tom Raynes, Executive Director of the Colorado District Attorneys Council, said in an interview with Denver7. "Not just as a prosecutor and former district attorney, but just as a citizen -- it's disturbing."

The Council represents the legislative interests of district attorneys across the state. Raynes served as the district attorney in the Montrose-based 7th Judicial District.

"It's clear there's a systemic failure here," he said of the health care impostors.

He's alarmed that Denver7 discovered little evidence DORA refers public complaints about fake health care professionals to law enforcement agencies or prosecutors.

Luby: "Is there any good reason that you can think of why you would not pursue that [type of] case?"

Raynes: "No, you'd have to pursue it because that individual practicing medicine without a license is endangering too many people on a daily basis and who knows, tens, hundreds, thousands -- it's too serious."

Governor Hickenlooper said he's having DORA rewrite its policies to make sure it conducts follow-ups about possible impostors -- especially those who've been issued cease and desist orders by Colorado's health care boards.

Additionally, he and his staff say DORA is working with Denver police and other law enforcement agencies to produce a training video that would assist officers in more quickly identifying health care impostors.

Neither the policies or video are finalized yet, but the governor said they would be soon.

Flynt said he's closed his practice after Denver7's visit. The Colorado Attorney General's office is currently seeking an injunction -- another civil filing -- against him.  At this point, it's unclear if the office will pursue a criminal case, but Pueblo District Attorney Jeff Chostner said DORA contacted Pueblo police on Friday.  Police then contacted him for guidance on relevant state statutes.

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