Clearly John Catanzaro hopes people don’t read the actual settlement reached with the Department of Health.
Catanzaro makes it seem like he did the Department of Health a favor and he did nothing wrong. However, he stipulated to deceiving the Department and he has to pay former patients $180,750 to cover the costs of vaccines he charged for but did not administer.
Catazaro admitted to the same charges made back in January. Here is just one in which he agrees with the Department of Health that his treatment was not safe and he engaged in unprofessional conduct.
Catanzaro is pretty brazen; he still has to apply for reinstatement and yet he is counting his vaccines before they are hatched.
The naturopath that Mark Driscoll called his physician can apply for license reinstatement when his suspension ends in January 2015. The order was announced by the Washington Department of Health yesterday and was the subject of a Seattle Times article posted last night.
Marqise Allen, Communications Office 360-236-4072
Kelly Stowe, Communications Office 360-236-4022
Snohomish County naturopath reaches settlement with state health officials
OLYMPIA — Snohomish County Naturopathic physician John A. Catanzaro (NATU.NT.00000769) has reached a settlement with state health officials to resolve charges against his license.
Catanzaro, whose license was suspended in January 2014, will remain suspended through at least Jan. 29, 2015. He will be on probation for at least eight years when his license is reinstated. Catanzaro didn’t follow appropriate protocol for implementing cancer research on people, and misrepresented to the Board of Naturopathy that he had the Federal Drug Administration approval required for experimental medications. He also failed to meet the standard of care by breaking applicable laws that govern safe and effective research on people. Catanzaro gave unapproved cancer vaccinations to cancer patients and didn’t get approval from an institutional review board. In addition, he didn’t properly keep and maintain patient records.
The statement of charges, summary action order, and settlement are available online by clicking “Look up a health care provider” on the Department of Health website. Copies can be requested by calling 360-236-4700. That’s also the number to call to file complaints against health care providers in Washington.
The order outlines the charges against Catanzaro. Despite proclaiming his innocence, Catanzaro stipulated to the findings of the investigation and the order and acknowledged that the cancer vaccines he made were not part of a research program and were not even made in a lab. Some of those findings involved deception about what he was doing when making cancer vaccines.
I was disappointed to see that there were no findings of fact regarding Catanzaro’s claims that he was collaborating with the Dana Farber Cancer Clinic at Harvard. Catanzaro told patients that Dana Farber would provide lab work and took money to pay for the lab work. Dana Farber denied any working relationship
In addition to the suspension and probation, Catanzaro will have to payback some money. He collected thousands from people without giving them a vaccine.
This adds up to $180,750 that Catanzaro has to repay as an aspect of license reinstatement.
If he is reinstated, Catanzaro’s probation will last 8 years. Although it is unclear when the benefit stopped, Catanzaro until recently administered the wellness program
for Mars Hill Church’s lead pastors.
In a bid to retain pastors, Mars Hill Church leaders implemented a wellness program in the summer of 2013. I first became aware of the program when John Catanzaro’s — Mark Driscoll’s naturopath physician — license to practice as a naturopath was suspended in January 2014. Then recently, I obtained more information about the program and the associated costs. The program is of interest because of the costs involved and the fact that the program involves Catanzaro whose license was suspended due to the use of cancer vaccines he was not authorized to administer. Catanzaro’s hearing is slated for November.
In response to negative publicity surrounding his loss of license, Catanzaro put out a press kit which referenced his work with Mars Hill Church. He claimed to be a special advisor to Mark Driscoll and to be working with the church to create wellness programs. Even though Catanzaro was at one time (perhaps still is) Driscoll’s naturopathic physician, Catanzaro’s articles were all removed from The Resurgence website when his license was suspended.
A source told me that the lead pastors and executive elders received monthly visits to Catanzaro’s clinic and were eligible to get IV vitamin treatments, and various supplements. The cost was around $100k for the first six months of the program according to one former pastor. Another former pastor told me that the cost was nearer to $7k/year per pastor ($126k for all pastors). Yet another said the visits were often marked by high pressure tactics to buy even more supplements and get more treatments.
I asked Mars Hill Church spokesman Justin Dean about the program. Below is his response:
Since the summer of 2013 we have provided a Wellness Program as part of the competitive benefits package we offer our Lead Pastors and Executive Elders for treatments not typically covered by our healthcare plan. We take the wellness of our families seriously and have been happy to provide this added benefit for these pastors. These included optional IV vitamin treatments, check up and back adjustments, and nutritional supplements. This was developed with Dr. Catanzaro’s office but was expanded to include other doctors. The costs associated with the program were not over $100k for the first 6 months. Due to our current financial situation all program costs are in review.
I also asked, “Just one follow up; are those “others doctors” in Dr. Catanzaro’s office?” to which he replied, “They are able to see other doctors at his [Catanzaro’s] office in addition to doctors at an entirely different facility. ”
People differ in their beliefs about the benefits of naturopathic treatments. Vitamin C treatments are controversial but I doubt they hurt much (or do much good). The amount of the program sounds high for what is offered which seems relevant given the current financial situation at Mars Hill.
Dean said all program costs are “in review” — as they should be. This wellness program was being funded at about the same level and about the same time as the “highly visible” mission projects in Ethiopia and India designed to draw money into the Global Fund. Now we know that most of the money donated to the Global Fund went to the general fund to pay for budget items like the wellness program.
UPDATE: There is disagreement over the cost of the program. Justin Dean wrote to me this afternoon and asked me to include an additional aspect to our email conversation about the wellness program. When we first talked, I had informed Dean that sources told me the wellness program cost $100k during the first six months of operation. Dean’s initial response to that point was stated above: “The costs associated with the program were not over $100k for the first 6 months.” However, later in the email conversation, Dean wrote again about the costs of the wellness program and said, “I checked into the figures on this and you have overstated the cost of this program by 85%.” I initially misunderstood this statement and asked about the actual figures which he did not provide. Then today, Dean asked me to include his statement about the costs of the program being overstated by 85% so that readers would not think that the $100/six months figure came from him. While Dean declined to give the actual dollar amount, he restated that “You asked if the cost was $100k in the first 6 months and I replied that number is overstated by 85%.” If I understand him correctly, the cost was closer to $54k for the first six months. Dean declined to confirm my estimate.
In response, my sources stood by the $100k/first six months figure, although added that the information came in a manner that cannot now be verified. One source also wanted to make it clear that there was no choice of provider until John Catanzaro’s license was suspended. My sources informed me that Catanzaro was the only approved naturopath until Catanzaro’s license was suspended.
All concerned acknowledge that the program existed with naturopath John Catanzaro as the developer. While the exact costs cannot be verified, estimates range from around $100k to $200k on an annualized basis.
As part of his media defense, John Catanzaro has issued a lengthy media kit. According to the release available from John Catanzaro’s Facebook page, the naturopath provides wellness consultation for Mars Hill executive pastors, serves on an Advisory Board Council at Mars Hill Church and is a special advisor to Mark Driscoll. Catanzaro lost his license to practice naturopathic medicine in January of this year due to allegations of administering unapproved cancer vaccines to his patients. He has a hearing scheduled for August of this year and has been mounting a media campaign in his defense. On page 6 of the release, Catanzaro claims to be helping Mars Hill and Acts 29 develop a ministry model for wellness integration:
Then on page 9, he claims to be a special advisor to Mark Driscoll:
I have contacted Justin Dean at Mars Hill about these claims. I will post any response I get.
Catanzaro was once a featured writer for Mars Hill Church’s Resurgence website. When his licensed was suspended, all of his articles were pulled from the website. Mark Driscoll has mentioned Cantazaro as a naturopath who helped him overcome his “adrenal fatigue” (not an actual medical condition) and provided an introduction to Catanzaro’s book on marijuana.
It is hard to tell if the claims in the media kit are accurate. On one hand, I have heard from internal Mars Hill sources that Catanzaro administers vitamins and various costly interventions exclusively to Mars Hill executive elders as a part of the wellness plan. On the other hand, Catanzaro also has claimed a research partnership with the University of Washington and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard. According to spokespersons for the U of W and Dana Farber, the claims of a partnership were never true. Dana Farber expressly demanded that Catanzaro cease using the name of the clinic in his materials. It is not clear how Catanzaro could provide naturopathic services to Mars Hill since his license has been suspended.
In addition to his media campaign, Catanzaro has launched a fund raising effort he says will benefit his patients.
On Saturday (May 10), the Everett (WA) Daily Herald carried an article following up on naturopath John Catanzaro’s response to the suspension of his license in January over cancer vaccines provided by his clinic. Although not a focus of the complaints against him, Catanzaro also claimed to have a professional relationship with the University of Washington and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard University. Both institutions denied any connection to Catanzaro and Dana Farber Cancer Institute demanded that Catanzaro stop claiming that he was working with the clinic. Subsequently, all references to Dana Farber as well as to the University of Washington disappeared from his materials without explanation.
According to the DailyHerald, Catanzaro has launched a website to defend himself and serve as a platform to raise money. His defense now is in the court of public opinion, but his formal hearing before the naturopath board is not slated to take place until August 6-8 of this year.
Catanzaro also told the Herald that he hopes to raise money in order to reimburse cancer patients for funds spent on vaccines. According to the Herald, Catanzaro said, “These are stage 4 cancer patients waiting on treatments we had to throw away and I just want to be able to pay them back for all they’ve lost.”
It is unclear why unused vaccines would require payments from patients. Patients pay as they go for treatments and if the vaccines are not going to be used, the clinic might suffer loss but the patients should only have to pay for what they use. Furthermore, Catanzaro’s non-profit arm seems to have sufficient resources to cover these research costs. According to the 2012 990 for the HWIF Cancer Research Group, the organization set up to fund vaccine research, the organization had a fund balance of $818, 301. The document demonstrates that revenues from program fees exceeded clinic expenses by just over $300,000 in 2012. Perhaps 2013 was a leaner year (the 990 is not available) but it appears that the non-profit should be able to step in for patients.
In the media coverage since Catanzaro’s suspension, additional questions are still unanswered.
Catanzaro has yet to address why he told the public that he had working relationships with the University of Washington and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard University. While he removed these references from his website after the lack of relationships came to light, he has not addressed the claims that he needed funds from clients to secure the services of Dana Farber. Dana Farber denied performing these services.
His relationship to his non-profit organization raises questions as well. According to the state of Washington, he is a director of the HWIFC Cancer Research Group, but his name does not show up as an officer or key employee on the organization’s IRS 990 report. According to the most recent 990, two of his employees, his wife and his accountant make up four of the six board members. As with the 2011 990, the 2012 report also shows significant transactions between the non-profit organization and Catanzaro’s for profit business.