New owner of foreclosed office building finds thousands of medical records
Michigan Health Investigation Department says selling records would be a HIPPA violation
STANDISH — A former doctor’s office in Standish is filled with thousands of medical records, and the new owner of the building said he was shocked to find the records.
Stas Yascolt of Pinconning said he purchased the building, located at 529 E. Cedar Street in Standish, to turn it back into a viable building in Standish.
“I want to take something that could be a liability and make it an asset again,” he said. “Unfortunately this building was on its way to becoming a liability.”
As for the stacks of records that were left in the building, Yascolt said he wants to see them used for research.
“I would like to see a competent institution, not a drug company, take control, take possession and have these records be made available for any research, current or future,” he said.
Although he said he has not yet checked with his attorney, Yascolt said he would consider selling the records back to the people whose information is on them.
“A search will cost (people) $100, that is nonrefundable,” he said. “People have got to let me know in writing what they want to see and I do not want anyone knocking at my door; I have too much work to do.”
“If anything I do is in conflict with whatever the legal procedures are, then of course I will comply,” he added. “This is all as best as I know.”
Ray Garza, director of the Michigan Health Investigation Department, said he is aware of the situation and has planned an investigation.
He added that Yascolt would not be allowed to sell the records.
“He cannot sell the records because it is against the law and is a HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) violation,” he said. "He is not the person responsible for keeping track of those records.”
Before the records can be removed, someone has to be able to take them. That is a process that a number of people are trying to figure out.
Garza said he is planning to come to Standish to view the records and get them into the correct hands.
“We are going to find out what we need to, but it is too soon for me to say where those records will be sent,” he said. “We need to know how long those records were there, how many there are, and get them back to the people they belong to.”
Holly Bender, spokesperson for St. Mary’s of Michigan Standish Hospital, said the hospital cannot take control of the records.
“Due to the fact that the physicians at that clinic were not affiliated with St. Mary’s of Michigan Standish Hospital, we cannot accept the records,” she said. “However, the Department of Commerce is planning on investigating the situation to determine how to move forward.”
Arenac County Treasurer Dennis Stawowy said he was unaware the records were in the building after it was foreclosed.
“We did not have keys for the inside of the building and could not reach the previous owner,” he said.
According to Stawowy, the last owner of the building was Dr. Chaudhrt Imran who now resides is Jackson. A number to contact Imran by phone is unavailable at this time.
The building was, at one time, owned by Dr.William Sokoll, who was sentenced to jail in September 2007 after pleading guilty to having controlled substance obtained by fraud, and controlled substance licensee prescription violations, according to information obtained from the Arenac County Sheriff’s Department.
Sokoll was released March 3, 2010.
Other prior owners of the building include Dr. Ceasar Castan and Dr. Javaid Bashir.
Stawowy said the building was sold Aug. 20 this year after the foreclosure process on the building began in March 2010.
“What we suggest that people do, who buy these foreclosed buildings and find valuable things in them, is to move those items into a storage locker someplace and leave them in the last owner's name,” he said. “It’s a different thing when you are talking about medical records.”
Yascolt said he just wants to see the building become an asset in the area.
“Standish is suffering enough,” he said. “Arenac County is suffering enough. The state and the country are suffering enough. We as individuals have got to take responsibility, have to take control, and we are living in a country that is of, by and for corporations. This building is evidence of that.”