August 23, 2012
Concord, NH - The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Emergency Services Unit (ESU) today released the number of patients tested at the public health clinics that were held in various communities around the state. In all 1,252 patients were tested for possible exposure to hepatitis C at the four different public health clinic sites. The clinics were held in response to the hepatitis C outbreak at Exeter Hospital. The Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) had recommended testing this second group of about 3,300 patients who received treatment in the Hospital’s Main Operating Rooms (excluding the outpatient surgery center) or the Intensive Care Unit between April 1, 2011 and May 25, 2012. This is in addition to patients treated in the Hospital’s Cardiac Catheritization Lab (CCL) between October 1, 2010 and May 25, 2012 who have already been tested.
“This was a tremendous effort to coordinate multi-day clinics in four different communities,” said DHHS Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas. “We could not have accomplished the testing of this many patients in this short of a time frame at these sites without the help of our regional and local public health partners.”
Call center staff reached out to patients to schedule appointments for the clinics. Clinics were held in Stratham, Plaistow, Rochester and Manchester. DPHS offered the rapid test to patients at the clinics, so patients who chose to stay, received an initial result that day. All samples collected at the clinics are currently undergoing confirmation testing at the NH Public Health Labs.
“We sent letters and called everyone that was recommended for testing, to make sure they were aware of public health's testing recommendations and of the different options for testing,” said ESU Director Rick Cricenti. “While we were able to test a significant number of patients, there were some who chose not to be tested at this time. We are still encouraging testing for those who have not yet done so.”
In addition to the patients tested at the public clinics, there were another 1,174 patients tested through Exeter Hospital’s clinics, the drawing sites in Portsmouth and Hampton, and through samples submitted directly from providers. This brings the total number of patients tested so far as part of the second phase of testing to 2,426.
If patients are still interested in being tested they can do so at the following locations:
- Portsmouth Regional Hospital – Hampton, Monday-Thursdays, 8 AM-4 PM
- Portsmouth Regional Hospital – Pease Trade Port, Monday-Thursdays, 8 AM-4 PM
No appointment is necessary at these sites, but patients will be asked to provide the letter they received from DPHS and proper identification.
As always, patients have the option of going to their own healthcare provider to have their blood drawn. The healthcare provider then needs to coordinate with the Public Health Lab for the testing by calling (603) 271-4661.
Visit www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/hepatitisc/index.htm or www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/index.htm for questions and information about this investigation and hepatitis C. Or call DPHS’ Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at (603) 271-4496.