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Cancer center legislation introduced following FOX31 investigation

DENVER -- Legislation regarding surgical and cancer centers has been introduced following a FOX31 Problem Solvers investigation in June 2018. A bill that is headed to committee is designed to close a loophole in the law that allows such centers in Colorado to go largely unregulated.

Senate Bill 19-110 says: "Facilities performing outpatient procedures such as liposuction and radiation treatments are not regulated to the same extent as facilities within a hospital and in some cases, not at all.”

The bill would require medical facilities performing outpatient procedures to be licensed.

Sen. Larry Crowder (R-Pueblo) introduced the legislation. Crowder told us the residents of Colorado deserve better protection.

“We don’t want to see another family suffer through what this last family suffered through," Crowder said, referring to 80-year-old Virginia Cornelius, who died at a Rocky Mountain Cancer Care Center in February 2018.

The Problem Solvers investigated after they were contacted by Cornelius’ daughter, Susan Hutt.

Hutt said her mother died during a radiation treatment and claims the facility was not prepared for an emergency.

"We walk in and there is our mother on the table, hands restrained. The mask for radiation therapy with the oxygen that goes into it is up on a table, is hanging up above her. And there is no one in there. She is not responsive, but no one is doing CPR," Hutt said.

The Problem Solvers' investigation revealed no state agency regulates cancer centers.

"We have no jurisdiction," confirmed Dr. Randy Kuykendall, the director of health facilities and emergency medical services for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

After the story aired in June 2018, FOX31 asked Crowder and other lawmakers to look at the legislative loophole.

“I’m not big on regulation but sometimes, it’s definitely necessary, and this seems to be one of those times,” Crowder said.

Like most consumers, Hutt assumed all medical facilities are regulated. The bill would require it.

“I don’t want someone else to lose their loved one and have the same regrets that I do, because I didn’t know that I had to check it out further. I just thought I was protected," Hutt said.

Hutt and her brother will testify before the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs committee next week.

After repeated phone calls from FOX31, Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers had its attorney call Hutt and her brother, Gary Cornelius after our story aired last summer.

The siblings told us the attorney and an office manager for the cancer center told them safety changes have been made because of their mother’s death.

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