EXETER — The state is working to find alternate sites for people to undergo blood tests for hepatitis C after some refused to use Exeter Hospital.
Dr. Sharon Allroy-Preis, state epidemiologist, said the state is expected to announce the new sites today in the wake of an outbreak of the potentially fatal virus linked to the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab and recovery unit.
The state began looking for other testing locations not affiliated with Exeter Hospital after some people complained, saying they don’t trust the hospital anymore, especially after 27 blood tests recently expired because they weren’t sent to the state lab in time for proper analysis.
One patient who must be tested a second time after his test expired is 63-year-old Terry Murphy of Exeter, who criticized the hospital at an informational meeting Friday night.
On Monday, Murphy said he was still waiting to get retested, but at another site.
“I have no more confidence in Exeter Hospital,” Murphy said. “Having Exeter Hospital in charge of the testing, that’s letting the wolf guard the chicken coop.”
Lawyers representing some patients being tested and now retested have urged the state to find alternate testing sites.
“Our clients need to be tested and do not want to return to the same location where they were exposed to the risk of a terminal illness for the testing,” Concord attorney Peter McGrath wrote to Public Health Director Dr. Jose Montero Monday.
State officials have said they believe a hospital employee infected with the virus misused hospital drugs. The employee, who has been suspended, likely used a syringe meant for a patient and then returned it to be used again. So far 19 patients of the hospital and one employee have tested positive for the same strain of hepatitis C, a virus that attacks the liver and can be fatal.
Attempts to reach Kevin Callahan, the hospital’s president and CEO, for an interview were unsuccessful on Monday. Hospital spokesman Ryan Lawrence was unable to arrange an interview on Monday, saying in an e-mail, “We will do our best to set something up in the future with Kevin, but we cannot right now.”
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