State officials want hormone treatment chain to close NC offices
Posted March 15, 2012 7:18 p.m. EDT
Updated March 20, 2012 5:00 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — State officials have sent warning letters to a national chain of medical offices that offer hormone replacement therapy, recommending that it close its North Carolina operations because it doesn't have a license to practice in the state.
HRC Medical operates 37 Hormone Replacement Centers in 21 states, including offices in Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte. The company promises its treatments can provide relief for issues like fatigue, sexual dysfunction and depression.
Dr. Dan Hale, HRC's founder, resigned unexpectedly last week, just as Tennessee officials began targeting the chain, questioning the quality of care patients receive.
The North Carolina Medical Board rejected Hale's application for a medical license in December, determining that he had multiple felony convictions in the mid-1990s for racketeering and conspiracy to commit mail fraud and had lied on his application.
The medical board has turned its findings over to the Wake County District Attorney's Office to determine if any criminal charges are warranted.
On Tuesday, the board suspended the license of Dr. Clarence Washington, who oversaw HRC's Raleigh office, for 12 months – only three months of it is active – determining that he was only a "figurehead" who operated under Hale's direction and allowed nurses to handle hormone treatments without proper oversight.
Last week, the board revoked HRC's registration in North Carolina, and the North Carolina Secretary of State's Office recommended that the company "cease offering any services" until officials could determine if it was operating in the state without a license.
HRC spokeswoman Susan Keel said the company's North Carolina offices have "voluntarily suspended accepting new patients for a few days" while attorneys work through the situation.
"We are working closely with representatives of the North Carolina Medical Board to ensure that their concerns are addressed," Keel said in a statement.
HRC offices continue to see existing patients, however.
As she left HRC's office on Lake Boone Trail in Raleigh, patient Pat Byrd said she had no clue about the company's problems.
"I'm kind of worried, but I know (the treatments are) helping me," Byrd said.