DENVER -- A Colorado state lawmaker is seeking changes to the Division of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) in the wake of an undercover Denver7's "Unlicensed, Unpunished" investigation, which exposed nearly 30 fake doctors, nurses, psychologists and other medical professionals in Colorado.
Rep. Irene Aguilar, a longtime Democratic legislator in Denver, was as disturbed as the hundreds of people who've reacted to Denver7's reporting.
"To hear that there are people...pretending to have those qualifications is very concerning," she said in an interview.
Aguilar served as a primary care doctor for more than 20 years at Denver Health's Westside Family Health Center. She also served on the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners from 1993 to 2001.
"Obviously, the reason we go through the process of licensing and/or registration, is to ensure that people who hold themselves out as being able to practice at a certain level really do have the education, training, and in some cases, testing required to do that," Aguilar said.
Denver7 exposed two medical impostors in particular -- Jennifer Jackson, a woman who posed as a nurse or certified nurse's aid for roughly six years at eight different facilities, and Randy Flynt, who posed as a therapist, counselor and psychologist for at least two years. Both ignored separate cease and desist orders from state regulators to stop unlicensed practicing.
Additionally, Denver7 also revealed how complaints of health care impostors from the public often languish within DORA and its health care boards for months or more before cease and desist orders are filed. Rarely do the cases lead to criminal charges of unauthorized practice under Colorado state law.
Aguilar said she remembers weighing complaints of unlicensed doctors during her time on the Board of Medical Examiners, but said she doesn't remember any of them actually practicing medicine. She said they simply called themselves doctors in name.
"This obviously rises to a very different level," she said of Denver7's findings.
Aguilar said the best remedy to the problems is unclear yet, but said it's critical to address the breakdown at DORA on the most critical cases.
"Certainly, if somebody is practicing, I think that is putting the public in danger and needs to be stopped immediately," she said.