Hippocrates Health, spa attended by aboriginal girls refusing chemo, sees fine cancelled

Florida officials say they have "insufficient evidence to pursue further legal action" against the co-directors of a health spa where two Ontario First Nations girls with leukemia received treatment, one of whom later died.

Florida clinic directors previously ordered to stop practising medicine by state

Brian Clement had been accused of practising medicine without a licence at the Hippocrates Health Institute but his fine and notice to 'cease and desist' issued last month was dropped by Florida's Department of Health. (CBC)

Florida officials say they have "insufficient evidence to pursue further legal action" against the co-directors of a health spa where two Ontario First Nations girls with leukemia received treatment, one of whom later died.

The state's Department of Health had been investigating complaints that Brian and Anna Maria Clement of the Hippocrates Health Institute were practising medicine without a licence, and had issued notices to cease and desist, as well as a fine to Brian Clement.

"After further review of the investigative materials, it was determined that there is insufficient evidence to pursue further legal action in this matter," the department said in an email this week to CBC News.

"A letter was sent to both parties instructing them to disregard the notice to cease and desist." The fine against Brian Clement has been dropped, too.

Brian and Anna Maria Clement are co-directors of the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida. (Hippocrates Health Institute)
Clement issued a statement through a public relations firm, saying the state found ”nothing within these claims of any substance."

"The Department of Health's decision to remove these charges conclusively demonstrates what we’ve said all along — that my wife and I are licensed nutritionists who have not and do not practise medicine."  

CBC reports triggered complaint

The complaint against Brian Clement was filed by a Florida lawyer who said she became concerned following a CBC News investigation into the Hippocrates Health Institute, a licensed massage establishment popular with Canadians battling serious illness.  

Clement, who went by the title "Dr." claimed to teach people to “heal themselves” from cancer by eating raw, organic vegetables and having a positive attitude. 

“We've had more people reverse cancer than any institute in the history of health care,” he said in a video obtained by CBC News.

“So when McGill fails or Toronto hospital fails, they come to us. Stage four [cancer], and they reverse it.”

CBC had also reported in the fall that 11-year-old Makayla Sault of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation in Ontario attended the spa months after quitting chemotherapy at McMaster Children's Hospital in Hamilton against doctors' advice. 

Makayla died in January, having suffered a relapse of her leukemia. Her family claims her death was due to damage caused by chemotherapy, whereas the McMaster doctors who treated her say no one is ever known to have survived her type of cancer without chemotherapy.

Her death is currently being investigated by Ontario's coroner's office.

J.J., another 11-year-old girl battling leukemia, also left chemotherapy to attend Hippocrates last summer against doctors' advice. CBC can’t reveal her identity because of a publication ban.

Her mother said she was convinced to abandon chemotherapy after speaking with Brian Clement. "By him saying, 'Oh, yes, no problem, we can help her,' that's the day I stopped the chemo."

J.J., an 11-year-old battling leukemia, left chemotherapy to go to the Hippocrates Health Institute, a health spa in Florida. (CBC)
​Clement denies having said that to the girl's mother.

The complaint against Anna Maria Clement was filed by Steven Pugh, a nurse who used to work at the Hippocrates Health Institute. He alleges he was fired last year after raising concerns about unlicensed and unethical practices by the Clements.

Pugh says he also filed a formal complaint about Brian Clement with Florida's Department of Health.

When contacted about the status of the complaint, the department said it "can neither confirm nor deny the existence of a complaint or investigation until 10 days after probable cause is found."

Pugh told CBC News he spoke with a prosecutor this week and was given every indication that the state’s investigation is ongoing.  

He says the Department of Health also sent him a letter on March 3, indicating its investigation into his complaint could take months to complete.