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July 21, 2012
HAYS Hospital officials in Hays are urging about 460 former patients who underwent heart catheterizations during a four-month period in 2010 to get tested for hepatitis C after a former hospital worker was charged in New Hampshire where the man allegedly diverted drugs and infected patients.
According to Hays officials, the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Hampshire announced Friday that David Kwiatkowski was arrested and charged with obtaining controlled substances by fraud and tampering with a consumer product. According to the affidavit filed in federal court in New Hampshire, Kwiatkowski allegedly engaged in drug diversion and infected patients with hepatitis C while working at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire.
HaysMed officials are now working with Kansas health officials to notify about 460 patients who underwent cardiac catheterization between May 24 and Sept. 22, 2010 at HaysMed that they may have been exposed to hepatitis C. Kwiatkowski was working at HaysMed at that time as a contract radiology technician.
Dr. Robert Moser, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, described the notifications as a necessary precaution.
“We understand patients and their loved ones may be very concerned about this situation. HaysMed and KDHE are working collaboratively on this investigation,” Moser said in a prepared statement. “I would like to reassure the public that we have no reason to be concerned about additional risks to the public. The events in question occurred approximately two years ago.”
The patients who were potentially exposed at HaysMed are being contacted by mail with information on how to receive free testing through KDHE and who to contact to answer questions and address concerns.
A special telephone hotline has been established at HaysMed for patients worried about potential exposure. The patients can speak with a nurse by calling 877-261-7140.
The hotline will be available the following hours:
Saturday, July 21, and Sunday, July 22 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Monday, July 23 through Friday, July 27 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
After Monday, July 30 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“We are taking swift and comprehensive steps to determine any implications for those patients treated during this time period and are committed to providing complete and accurate information to our patients and the public as quickly as possible," HaysMed Chief Executive Dr. John Jeter said in a statement released late Friday. "HaysMed is proud of the quality health care we provide to the residents of western Kansas. The alleged criminal actions of this individual in New Hampshire do not reflect the high standard of care provided every day by the doctors, nurses and staff at HaysMed.”
According to State Epidemiologist Charles Hunt, hepatitis C is a virus that is passed through blood and affects the liver. Approximately 2,000 confirmed cases are reported in Kansas each year. Only about one in five persons who become infected with hepatitis C virus initially becomes ill, with symptoms ranging from a mild illness to more severe disease. Most persons with hepatitis C virus develop a chronic infection, which is a serious disease that can cause long-term health problems.
There is no vaccine against hepatitis C virus. For additional information on hepatitis C, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.