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Entries in New Hampshire (4)

Sunday
Jul292012

Canceled Hepatitis C Tests Flame 'Serial Infector' Fears

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(EXETER, N.H.) -- Testing of more than 3,000 people who may have been infected with hepatitis C at a New Hampshire by an alleged "serial infector" was canceled this weekend, leaving some former patients scared and angry.

Health officials cancelled the weekend testing clinic, even though they asked the former patients at Exeter Hospital to get tested, because they said the logistics were too much.

David Kwiatkowski, a former lab technician at Exeter Hospital, was indicted last week for allegedly infecting 31 people with hepatitis C at that hospital, but might have infected thousands of patients in at least 13 hospitals where he has worked.

Kwiatkowski had allegedly been stealing syringes of the anesthetic Fentanyl intended for patients, injecting his own arm and then refilling those empty syringes with another liquid-like saline, according to a statement from the United States Attorney's Office in New Hampshire.

Since Kwiatkowski tested positive for hepatitis C in June 2010, he passed it on to the hospital patients who were injected with his used, saline-filled syringes, according to the affidavit.

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"If he knew that he was infected and he put those needles back on the shelf, that is the definition of evil," Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News' Chief Health and Medical Editor, told Good Morning America. "Anyone who was in those hospitals when he was working there is potentially at risk. We're talking tens of thousands of people."

Kwiatskowski, 32, was a temporary employee at Exeter Hospital who has worked in at least eight hospitals in 13 states, Besser said.

Exeter Hospital issued a press release this week, indicating that the state Department of Health and Human Services and its Division of Public Health Services have decided to expand hepatitis C testing to anyone who was a patient in one of the hospital operating rooms or the intensive care unit. Government health officials are urging about 6,000 patients to get tested in Exeter Hospital alone, according to the release.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul252012

Thousands May Need Hepatitis C Test After New Hampshire Hospital Outbreak

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(EXETER, N.H.) -- Thousands of hospital patients in New Hampshire may need to be tested for Hepatitis C now that a man has been accused of infecting several with his strain of the virus.

Federal prosecutors say medical technician David Kwiatowski at New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital used syringes to inject himself with painkillers, then used the same dirty needles to inject patients with saline instead of their prescribed medication. 

Kwiatkowski, 32, was arrested and charged with acquiring a controlled substance by fraud and tampering with a consumer product with reckless disregard for the risk of others, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire.

"The evidence gathered to date points irrefutably to Kwiatkowski as the source of the Hepatitis C outbreak at Exeter Hospital," U.S. attorney John P. Kacavas said in a press release. "With his arrest, we have eliminated the 'serial infector' posed to public and health safety."

Since Kwiatkowski tested positive for Hepatitis C in June 2010, he passed it on to the hospital patients, according to the affidavit. Thirty-one patients in the facility's cardiac catheterization lab have now been diagnosed with the same strain of Hepatitis C as Kwiatowski.  

Exeter Hospital employees discovered the outbreak in May 2012, prompting an investigation that spanned several local, state and federal government agencies, including the FBI, according to court documents obtained by ABC News.

Now as patients file a class action lawsuit, prosecutors say there may be an untold number of cases in eight states were Kwiatowski worked as a traveling medical technician.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul052012

New Hampshire Hospital Facing Legal Action over Hepatitis C Outbreak

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(EXETER, N.H.) -- New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital faces dozens of lawsuits over an outbreak of hepatitis C that has been linked to its cardiac catheterization lab.

The New Hampshire Department of Health announced Monday that, so far, 27 people had contracted the disease while in the cardiac catheterization lab. Of the 27 cases, one was a hospital employee. An additional 12 people tested positive for the hepatitis C virus but had a strain different from the one tied to the outbreak.

Foster's Daily Democrat reported that 59 patients had filed suit against the hospital -- 47 in a class action and another 12 individually.

Cases were first reported in May, and in June, state health officials said the outbreak was most likely the result of drug diversion by a hospital employee. Drug diversion, the misuse of prescription drugs for nonmedicinal purposes, has become a major problem among health care workers, who may use narcotics prescribed for patients and then pass on diseases through contaminated syringes. State officials are still investigating whether the employee was the source of the outbreak.

Hepatitis C is a disease that causes inflammation of the liver and can lead to chronic infection.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 13 health care-associated hepatitis C outbreaks between 2008 and 2011. More than 100 people were infected during those outbreaks. Two of the outbreaks -- one in 2009 in Colorado and another in 2010 in Florida -- involved drug diversion by health care staff.

The hospital said in a news release that it had contacted patients who were treated in the cardiac catheterization lab or the recovery room between Oct. 1, 2010, and May 25, 2012, urging them to get tested for hepatitis C.

The health department said testing on individuals who may have been exposed to the virus is almost complete.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun242011

One Man's Mission to Raise Money for Cancer by Surfing

Ralph Fatello surfed every day for a year, even during New Hampshire's harsh winter. (Gabby Fatello)(HAMPTON, N.H.) -- Every single day for nearly the last year, Ralph Fatello has climbed on his surfboard, and ridden a wave off the New Hampshire coast.

Fatello isn't trying to get into the record books. Closing in on age 60, he's not trying to prove he can keep up with the teen surfers of his youth. He's not trying to win a bet. Fatello is on a mission to surf one wave every day for a year to raise money for financially-strapped families dealing with a child diagnosed with cancer.

It's all in memory of 5-year-old Molly Rowlee, who was "just starting to surf," according to Fatello. In February of 2009, the little girl with the big smile complained of a stomach ache. She was soon diagnosed with lymphoma.

"Molly made wonderful progress" after her initial chemotherapy treatment, according to her father Buck Rowlee. But the cancer soon returned, and five months after her diagnosis, Molly died.

It sent the tight knit surfing community in New Hampshire, "into a tail spin," said Fatello. Molly's parents set up the "Molly Rowlee Fund," at Boston's Dana-Farber/Children's Hospital Cancer Center, where Molly was treated.

The Molly Rowlee Fund, formally established just this past December, is designed to offer families "concrete support," according to the hospital, including money for rent, mortgages, transportation and food.

As Buck Rowlee put it, "The families can use the money to help pay bills, or put gas in the tank, or food on the table."

In a written statement, Daisy Gomez, with Pediatric Psychosocial Services at Dana-Farber told ABC News the Fund " has helped nearly a dozen families who have been financially impacted by lengthy hospitalizations and out-of-pocket costs associated with their child's cancer."

Molly's parents have raised $20,000 for the Fund so far, and have pledged to raise another $80,000 dollars over the next five years.

That's where Ralph Fatello comes in.

This is Fatello's second "surf-a-thon". A decade ago, he surfed every day for a year to raise money for the American Diabetes Association. It was in honor of his father, and the year-long effort brought in $33,000

He admits this time, being a decade older, it's been a bit harder. "I started to work out, and lost 30 pounds," said Fatello. Then he took to his surfboard. His first day of the marathon effort was July 26 of last year, and he'll wrap it up July 26, 2011, after 366 consecutive days on the water. That will be just past the two year anniversary of Molly's death.

Fatello has his own standard for what counts as surfing a wave for Molly. "I have to ride the length of the board I am riding," he says, "In other words if I am riding a 9' board I have to go at least 9 feet. This is helpful on the really small (wave) days. Those are the hardest."

And as he has been trudging to the beach every single day over the past year, cancer struck even closer to home.

His sister was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He’s now catching a second wave each day for her.

But the graphic artist, writer and photographer is hardly complaining. He says the hardest day will be the day after he finishes his surfing epic. Fatello isn't sure how much money this effort will raise. Many of his donors have pledged a dollar-a-day, and they won't pay up until his effort his over. He hopes to bring it at least $20,000 dollars for what he calls his "catch a wave for Molly" fundraiser.

As for next year, "I'll be going somewhere tropical," laughed Fatello. But even has he does, he hopes the marathon of this past year will mean smoother sailing for families going through one of the most difficult times of their lives.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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