VAN NUYS, Calif.—Despite the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's cease-and-desist order served on the AIM Healthcare Foundation last week, AIM's owner, Dr. Sharon Mitchell, assured AVN that AIM will be able to draw blood from patients and provide other medical services to them by Christmas Eve at the latest.
"The crux of the matter turned out to be an absolute sham," Mitchell told AVN in an exclusive interview. "That whole 'clinic license' application that they were forcing us to sign was—we have been operating, actually, at the offices of a doctor for 13 years. We never needed a clinic license because we've been a doctor's office. They forced us to sign this clinic license application this year, and we just didn't want to sign it, and they wouldn't let us check 'other' on the form; they kept saying we had a choice of being a 'hospital facility,' 'clinic facility,' 'inpatient,' 'outpatient,' 'surgical,' and they wouldn't let us check 'other.' The county were being really, really mean about this. It was really bad. And then they kept saying we needed to meet all these requirements, and so we got the Board to sign, and then the last thing was, they had a fire code [inspection] that they said wasn't carried out yet, and they're the ones that had to order that, not us! It's just very odd. Nothing added up. You can get copies of all these notices from the county."
But in fact, though few people in the industry know this, the AIM offices at 4630 Van Nuys Blvd. are the offices of Dr. Colin Hamblin, AIM's medical director, and that is where he and his colleagues—including Mitchell, who has a doctorate in public health—see patients and perform medical services.
But dealing with the county hasn't been easy, and it's forced Mitchell to take some drastic actions.
"The straw that broke the camel's back was the name," Mitchell explained. "The name, 'The Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation,' is the name of our non-profit 501(c)(3), but the name on our lease read 'AIM Healthcare Foundation'; it was our dba, and they wouldn't accept that, and so I told them our landlords were out of town in China; can you give us a little extra time? And that was Nov. 30, and they granted us that 60-day extension, and then a week later, the county came in with its cease-and-desist."
"I had to hire like the best health attorneys in the country," she continued. "I mean, there was nothing else I could do, because this was the ultimate conspiracy. This all started from [AIDS Healthcare Foundation president Michael] Weinstein and Patient Zeta throwing all of this at us, and [County Health director Dr. Jonathan] Fielding is exhausted and has made so many mistakes, and he's weary, that every other department just seemed to go wild and corrupt at the same time. Moreover, I'm told that it's on record at one of those OSHA meetings that the County Health STD Department and AIDS Healthcare Foundation petitioned for a joint grant from the CDC or the National Institutes of Health for the medical monitoring of the industry using the protocols that AIM uses, so apparently they just wanted us out of the way."
The biggest change, however, is that under existing law, AIM is unable to operate as a health clinic and remain a non-profit corporation at the same time.
"That's what I've been told by three attorneys and I've hired literally the best attorneys around," Mitchell said. "So what we're doing now is restructuring our corporate structure, so the county won't be able to penetrate the boundaries of that. It will be like a private corporation. It won't be a non-profit anymore, unfortunately, but fortunately, most of the people that use our services and who donate money to AIM utilize those services for production anyway, so they can still write off those expenses for taxes as business expenses. It was not an easy decision for me to make, but it was the only one I could possibly make to open my doors again."
So how will AIM continue to operate with the county's cease-and-desist order still on record?
"Because we won't be under their auspices anymore," Mitchell explained. "As a doctor's offices, there won't be a fucking thing they can do. They can't come in and they have no authority over us. But if we stay as a non-profit, then they're gonna come at us with some fucking thing every week, and I'll never be able to stay open. But if we're for-profit, they don't have that power."
And the clincher?
"Our attorneys talked to them [the county] about this yesterday, and apparently they were very, very upset about this, even at the threat of us going for-profit, but when the attorneys knew that they felt threatened, they were like, 'Okay, then that's what we'll do!'"
Certainly, the adult industry can hardly have hoped for a better Christmas present than having AIM back to performing its customary services.