A 29-year-old woman who traveled to South Florida for cosmetic surgery died after her procedure Thursday afternoon, police said.
Heather Meadows, a mother of two from West Virginia, suffered medical complications at Encore Plastic Surgery in Miami-Dade County, Hialeah police told the Miami Herald. Medical staff at a nearby hospital later pronounced her dead.
State health officials said the licensed clinic has no active complaints. Yet the newspaper linked Encore to an active medical malpractice case and a 2013 death at another Hialeah clinic following a buttocks augmentation.
Representatives for the Hialeah Police Department didn’t immediately respond Friday to a request for comment, and they didn’t disclose to the Herald what procedure Encore had performed on Meadows. Officials at Encore didn’t immediately return a phone call and email.
“You all are not answering questions as to what happened to Heather Meadows,” a Facebook user wrote on Encore’s page Friday. “We all know she was rushed to the hospital and later pronounced dead.”
Coroners conducted an autopsy on Meadows Friday, but no results will be available until after police complete their investigation, said Darren Caprara, director of operations at the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner Department.
State laws prevent Florida health officials from revealing open complaints against license holders until 10 days after finding probable cause, Mara Gambineri, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health, said in a statement.
“We can assure the public that we will be diligent and thorough in protecting them from unsafe or unscrupulous health care practice,” Gambineri said. “In any complaint investigation, the department uses its authority to subpoena all relevant records and to conduct interviews that will support the investigation. Every health care licensee is afforded due process rights under the law.”
Encore’s website and Facebook page promote breast implants, Brazilian butt lifts, rhinoplasty, liposuction and a procedure called a “Mommy Makeover.” A woman interviewed outside the clinic by WSVN-TV said Encore offered her a cosmetic operation at $8,000 less than competitors.
“I’m not having surgery here. Are you kidding me? This is a chop shop,” the woman said. She asked for her deposit back after the news station told her about Meadows’ death.
Records cited by the Herald show Encore President Ismael Labrador paid a $30,000 fine in 2007 after police said he employed unlicensed doctors. A 51-year-old woman died in July 2013 due to complications from her surgery in Hialeah at Vanity Cosmetic Surgery, which Labrador owns.
State health officials are trying to revoke the license of Dr. Osakatukei (Osak) Omulepu, who has been listed on Encore’s website, on grounds of medical malpractice after they said he seriously injured four patients in two days at Vanity and another clinic. He has denied the charges.
Friends and family of Meadows, the mother of a newborn baby girl and a 6-year-old boy, were left coping with their grief by posting tributes to her on social media.
“Don’t know why such a beautiful, young lady like you had to be taken from us this time,” a cousin of hers wrote on Facebook. “As I am writing this, I find myself holding back tears. I don’t know why God had to take you this early in life.”
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