Created: Wed, 14 Aug 2013 05:42:00 EST
Updated: Wed, 14 Aug 2013 06:44:11 EST
Medical records and equipment remain inside a Unadilla building a year after a Dooly County man purchased the property.
Gary Ransom bought the vacant building to possibly set up a hair salon and turn the upstairs into lofts March 2012. However, plans changed when he opened the door and discovered medical files with patients Social Security numbers and history scattered on the floor in the back of the building. In addition a refrigerator with bio hazard stickers and used needles in red boxes sit next to a back wall.
Ransom said the building was rented by Unadilla Health Care in 2011 for a month after their organization closed.
"They had to have a place to store the records and to disperse them and when they shredded the records that were left, I reckon they didn't get them all shredded," Ransom said.
Due to HIPPA laws, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability which protects the privacy of individuals health information, he can't legally destroy the files. For the last year, Ransom said he's been contacting everyone from local health departments to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights for help, but it's been a challenge.
"They have an investigation open to see how bad this is but so far they haven't done anything,” he said. “The last written response I got back from them was in May."
A paralegal from the department’s main office in Washington D.C. contacted WGXA and said they’re looking into the case and reaching out to the regional office in Atlanta for an explanation to this problem.
In the meantime, Unadilla Health Care is threatening Ransom with a lawsuit to obtain the files and equipment despite no longer being in business. However, handing everything over is not very simple.
"I've been told only somebody with the medical department, a licensed medical technician can actually remove these records,” Ransom said.
The building remains empty except for a few of Ransom’s tools. He doesn't want to have a business rent out the space for fear the records will be stolen. However, after dealing with this debacle, he said he'd do things differently.
"If I had to do it over again and walked in here and seen what I have seen. I would've never told nobody,” he said. “I'd of dug a hole and just disposed of it.”