Better Business Bureau warns of St. Louis Park business
The Better Business Bureau is warning a St. Louis Park business changed its name to avoid a bad reputation.
HRC Medical Center Inc. in St. Louis Park changed its name to New Leaf Wellness in the days leading up to a Tennessee Attorney General’s Office filing seeking to close all HRC Medical Center branches, the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota asserted in a statement released Oct. 25.
The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office argues in a lawsuit that HRC Medical Center as a company has “endangered the health of consumers without their knowledge, significantly impaired the quality of life for an untold number of consumers and caused widespread economic loss.”
A Tennessee judge issued a temporary restraining order against HRC Medical Center Oct. 10.
“Shortly thereafter, the company’s headquarters location in Nashville was sold to former HRC employees and changed its name to Bella Vita Medical Center,” according to the Better Business Bureau.
New Leaf Wellness registered its name with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office in September and operates its office in the same location as the site of the previous Minnesota HRC Medical Center, according to the Better Business Bureau. HRC Medical Center was located at 5000 W. 36th St., Suite 205 in St. Louis Park.
“We find the timing of these name changes to be interesting, to say the least,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota. “People who are considering this treatment should be aware of the lawsuit in Tennessee, as well as the company’s track record of handling customer concerns. They should also make sure they understand the potential risks involved.”
The Better Business Bureau also states newspaper ads for New Leaf Wellness are identical to those previously run by HRC Medical Center.
New Leaf Wellness denied it is associated with HRC Medical Center in an Oct. 30 statement.
“New Leaf Wellness is deeply concerned about errors and misinformation that has been distributed by the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota,” the statement reads.
The organization is solely owned by Dr. Sandy Wiita, who trained at the University of Minnesota Medical School, completed her professional training at St. Cloud Hospital-Mayo Family Practice residency program and is board-certified in family medicine, according to the New Leaf Wellness statement.
Although denying affiliation with HRC Medical Center, Wiita did enter into a contract for medical service at HRC Medical in St. Louis Park for “just a few months in 2012,” the New Leaf Wellness statement reads. After learning of HRC Medical Center’s legal issues in Tennessee, Wiita terminated her contract at the same time that HRC Medical Center’s management company, AM2 Holdings, terminated its agreement with HRC Medical, the New Leaf Wellness statement adds.
“Dr. Wiita decided to start her own medical practice,” the New Leaf Wellness release states.
She contracted with AM2 Holdings, which had previously provided services for HRC Medical, to manage the New Leaf Wellness operations. The two entities are in the process of assuming the lease abandoned by HRC Medical. The business is finalizing its website, marketing materials and clinic administration, according to the New Leaf Wellness statement.
HRC Medical Center offered “bio-identical hormone replacement therapy” in nearly three dozen clinics across the country, including St. Louis Park.
Complaints to the Better Business Bureau included alleged side effects to hormone therapy, including facial and body hair, voice changes and other physical appearance changes. According to the Better Business Bureau, HRC Medical responded, “We have put forth our best efforts to accommodate the high demand for bio-identical hormone replacement, however, HRC Medical can 100 percent guarantee that a patient’s targeted hormone levels will improve; however, symptom improvement is subject to each patient. Like all medical procedures, this is not an exact science; therefore, HRC Medical cannot guarantee results.”
The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota gave the HRC Medical Center’s St. Louis Park location an “F” rating after the clinic allegedly failed to substantiate claims made to a secret shopper that the hormone treatment would reverse bone density loss by 18 percent, provide general health benefits, was safe and was guaranteed.
A trial relating to the Tennessee lawsuit against HRC Medical Center is set to begin in mid-November.
The Better Business Bureau advised individuals to consult their primary care physicians before participating in any supplemental hormone replacement therapy not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA maintains information regarding bio-identical hormones available at tinyurl.com/arphs6s.