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Hepatitis coming back negative

8/11/2012

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

Two Hays Medical Center patients who have been tested for hepatitis C virus have had their results come back positive, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced Friday in a news release.

Based on tests completed at New Hampshire Public Health Laboratory, two HaysMed patients out of 334 tested through Thursday have been identified as positive for a strain of the hepatitis C virus closely related to a cluster of patients in New Hampshire who were allegedly infected by David Kwiatkowski, a traveling contract medical technician.

Kwiatkowski, 32, who worked at HaysMed in 2010, was arrested in New Hampshire July 19 and charged with obtaining controlled substances by fraud and tampering with a consumer product. At least 30 patients at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C Kwiatkowski carries.

Kwiatkowski worked in the cardiac catheterization laboratory at HaysMed from May 24, 2010, to Sept. 22, 2010. Once HaysMed learned of the possibility of infection of some patients in that time period, it has coordinated a testing program with KDHE.

KDHE said it has identified 474 patients at HaysMed as having procedures in the cardiac catheterization laboratory while Kwiatkowski was employed at the hospital. That includes 54 patients who have been identified as deceased from various causes prior to the notification process.

As of Thursday, 311 patients have tested negative. For the remaining patients who have submitted blood specimens, either they are still being processed or have not completed epidemiologic review, KDHE said.

KDHE is conducting initial testing for the virus, then the New Hampshire agency is conducting further diagnostic tests to help guide patient care.

"We appreciate the cooperation of all the patients who have been tested, including the more than 300 who received negative results," said HaysMed President and CEO Dr. John Jeter in a statement Friday afternoon. "We never want a patient to test positive for any illness, however, we are prepared to help any patient who now has the necessary information to move forward with treatment plans.

"A response team has been created at HaysMed to assist and coordinate with any patient who is notified that he/she has tested positive for hepatitis C."

HaysMed patients can be tested at no charge at the Quest site, 2501 Canterbury. If this site is not convenient, patients also can have the lab work done at their local hospital. Information about additional test sites is available on the HaysMed website, haysmed.com.

HaysMed's telephone hotline will be open today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The hotline will be open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The number to call is (877) 261-7140.