DELRAY BEACH (PBP) -- A doctor with offices in Delray Beach was arrested Friday on allegations of illegally running a pain-management clinic, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said.
Businesses near Dr. Fernando Jimenez’s new clinic on Lindell Boulevard had complained that people had been coming into their offices looking for directions to the clinic, where prescriptions for strong and often addictive medicines for chronic pain were filled, officials said.
State health officials allege Jimenez, 68, of Fort Lauderdale did not obtain the necessary licensing for his practice, Pain Management Care Consultants, when he moved it from its longtime home on East Linton Boulevard to its new home on Lindell. A license Jimenez had received for pain clinics in June 2010 had apparently expired.
Jimenez was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail. He was released late Friday on $3,000 bail.
The arrest comes as state and local officials have tried to crack down on pain clinics. The industry grew at an explosive rate in South Florida as drug traffickers and drug users flocked to Broward and Palm Beach counties, drawn here by what many perceived as a lack of state regulation.
At least 1,200 pain clinics were operating statewide around 2010, and at least 122 clinics were doing business in Palm Beach County, state records show, handing out thousands of tablets of oxycodone and other powerful drugs.
According to a sheriff’s office probable-cause arrest affidavit, Jimenez relocated his practice in late July to the new one in the 200 block of Lindell, about one mile to the south near the Boca Raton border.
He contacted the state Department of Health on Aug. 15 to ask about obtaining a license to run a medical office. A health department investigator asked Jimenez if he planned to run a pain-management clinic at the new address. Jimenez said he did not, the affidavit said.
Prior to relocating to his new office, Jimenez signed a lease agreement banning him running a pain clinic. Representatives from the leasing company were reportedly told that Jimenez would be practicing cardiology, his medical specialty.
However, tenants from neighboring businesses complained that individuals were coming to their offices seeking the pain clinic. A leasing company employee saw signs indicating that Jimenez’s practice was a pain clinic. However, Jimenez’s wife told the leasing agent the business was not a pain clinic and was in the process of changing its name, the affidavit said.
Another doctor at the practice told investigators the majority of patients being treated there were for pain management.
The Department of Health audited the clinic’s patient files and found that more than half were treated for pain management and received controlled substances for chronic pain, the affidavit said.