July 19, 2012
Concord, NH – In a press release issued earlier today, the United States Attorney’s Office announced the arrest of a former employee of Exeter Hospital in connection with the hepatits C outbreak. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Division of Public Health Services (DPHS), in the course of its investigation, has learned that the healthcare worker suspected of drug diversion at Exeter Hospital worked in other states prior to his employment in New Hampshire. Early in the investigation, DPHS identified drug diversion as the likely cause of the outbreak at the Hospital’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab (CCL) that has so far resulted in the infection of 30 patients in addition to the Exeter Hospital employee.
DPHS has been working in coordination with many partners, including health departments in several other states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the NH Attorney General’s Office, and the US Attorney’s Office. “This investigation has taken many turns and is still an on-going investigation,” said NH Public Health Director Dr. Jose Montero. “We know that this healthcare worker was employed as a 'traveler,' working through an agency in healthcare facilities on temporary assignments. We’ve been coordinating efforts with the other states where this healthcare worker previously worked and with the CDC."
In the State of New Hampshire, DPHS continues to test individuals, conduct interviews, and gather data to assure that all potentially exposed patients are notified and tested. Current recommendations for testing have not changed yet but the investigation is on going.
Hepatitis C is a viral infection transmitted by blood. It causes inflammation of the liver that can lead to chronic health issues. It is passed from person to person through contact with an infected person’s blood.
Patients who were treated in Exeter’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab (CCL) or its recovery room between October 1, 2010 and May 25, 2012 have been asked to be tested for potential exposure to hepatitis C. Any patients who fit the above criteria and have not yet been tested can contact Exeter Hospital’s Information and Referral Center at (603) 580-6124.
For questions and information about hepatitis C visit www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/hepatitisc/index.htm or www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/index.htm or call DPHS Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 603-271-4496. Any inquiries about the criminal investigation should be addressed to the NH Attorney General’s Office at 271-3658.