After state health officials announced a new case of hepatitis C has been determined to be linked to the Exeter Hospital cardiac catheterization lab, these state officials called on the hospital to test its own employees to ensure they did not play a role in the spread of the potentially deadly virus.
The hospital responded by issuing a brief statement, ”
“Yesterday, the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services announced that they are recommending that Exeter Hospital test additional employees for hepatitis C in response to questions raised about the most recent patient to be connected to our outbreak. This newly identified patient (patient 33) had a procedure in our Cardiac Catheterization Unit just prior to Mr. Kwiatkowski’s start date as a “traveler” or temporary employee there. However, there was an overlap in this patient’s admission with Mr. Kwiatkowski’s first week of employment.
“We have not yet moved forward with implementing the state’s initial request because there are still important questions about how this newly announced case became linked to Mr. Kwiatkowski.”
Alroy-Preis addressed this uncertainty Thursday when she said publicly, “We don’t have any evidence at this moment to indicate other staff were involved (in drug diversion). Before exploring the idea of expanded employee testing, we believe that all possible routes of transmission for this case, both inside and outside the hospital, should be considered and thoroughly investigated. We do not support the idea of government-driven, broad-based testing of employees without first having specific evidence concerning why that testing is appropriate on a case-by-case basis and there is strong legal support for it.
“We are confident that we can work with the state on a more targeted, rational approach that is consistent with state and federal laws, respects both patient and employee privacy rights, and does not create unnecessary anxiety or concern in the general public. Over the next few days, we will be developing a voluntary testing notification and lab draw process for a limited group of staff who provided direct care to patient 33.”
Obviously, what should be paramount is public safety. We’ll monitor this situaton closely and report back as news develops.
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