HMC, KDHE look to alert patients
By RANDY GONZALES
Hays Medical Center and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are working together to notify approximately 460 former HaysMed patients of possible exposure to hepatitis C.
The KDHE on Friday said a traveling hospital technician is accused of causing an outbreak of the disease in New Hampshire. Federal prosecutors there announced Thursday they have charged David Kwiatkowski with obtaining controlled substances by fraud and tampering with a consumer product.
In a statement, KDHE said Kwiatkowski worked in the cardiac catheterization laboratory at HaysMed from May 24, 2010, to Sept. 22, 2010. HaysMed and KDHE have begun notifying patients treated in the lab during that time period. The KDHE said only those patients who underwent cardiac catheterization procedures at HaysMed during that time span were potentially put at risk.
A telephone hotline has been established by HaysMed for patients concerned about possible exposure to the disease, a blood-borne viral infection capable of causing liver damage and chronic health problems.
The number to call is (877) 261-7140. The line is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. The hotline will be in operation from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. beginning July 30.
"The health and well-being of our patients and staff is always our first priority," HaysMed President and CEO Dr. John Jeter said in a statement released Friday. "We are requesting that those patients be tested as soon as reasonably possible and are providing them information about testing locations."
In an Associated Press report, New Hampshire U.S. Attorney John Kacavas called Kwiatkowski a "serial infector" who has worked in at least six states since 2007.
The AP report said Kwiatkowski, a contract radiology technologist, is accused of stealing anesthetic drugs from the lab in New Hampshire. He allegedly injected himself and contaminated syringes later used on patients, 30 of whom have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C Kwiatkowski carries.
Kwiatkowski told investigators he was diagnosed in May, but authorities said there is evidence he has had the disease since at least June 2010.
"We understand patients and their loved ones may be very concerned about this situation," KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer Robert Moser said in a statement. "I would like to reassure the public that we have no reason to be concerned about additional risks to the public."