Concord, NH - The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) announces the delay of the hepatitis C testing clinics that were scheduled for this weekend. The Department reached the decision late this afternoon after determining that there were several factors that had the potential to compromise the operation.
“Our first priority is and always been the health and safety of the citizens of New Hampshire,” said Nicholas Toumpas, Commissioner of DHHS. “These clinics are a tremendous undertaking involving hundreds of people and to ensure the best and safest experience for the patients coming for testing, the decision was made to delay. I realize this is another bump in the road in this extensive outbreak investigation, but it is in the best interest of everyone involved. We ask you for your patience as we work to determine the next steps.”
Earlier this week we announced the expansion of the testing recommendations in relation to the hepatitis C outbreak at Exeter Hospital, which now includes patients who were treated in the Main Inpatient Operating Rooms or the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) between April 1, 2011 and May 25, 2012. Initial estimation by the hospital indicated that this would involve approximately 6,000 patients, however the final list includes approximately 3,400 patients.
“We undertook this effort to provide the quickest results possible to as many people as we could in a short amount of time,” said Dr. Jose Montero, Director of Public Health at DPHS. “But the reality is this was an unprecedented undertaking and there were just too many details that could not be worked out in time. The fault is ours and we deeply apologize for any inconvenience or worry this may cause. We continue our planning and are working to determine the best way to proceed with testing this newly identified group of patients.”
There will still be a public meeting tonight for people to ask questions about testing to be held at Exeter High School at 6:00 PM. If people are unable to make the public meeting, they can follow DHHS on Twitter @NHDHHSPIO or look for #NHHepC. WMUR will also be streaming the meeting live on their website at www.wmur.com.
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 the DPHS Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 603-271-4496.