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September 02. 2012 12:55AM

Garry Rayno's State House Dome: Bill eyed to prevent failures that led to hepatitis C spread


 

EXETER HOSPITAL AFTERMATH: A group of legislators continues to work on tightening up state laws and regulations governing medical technicians like David Kwiatkowski.

Kwiatkowski, 33, a former radiology technician at Exeter Hospital, was arrested and held on federal charges related to more than 30 patients at Exeter Hospital being infected with hepatitis C.

State and federal officials allege Kwiatkowski injected himself with the painkiller Fentanyl and returned the contaminated syringes, which were then used in treating patients.

Rep. Lee Quandt, R-Exeter, said the language for the bill will be ready when bill drafting begins. The bill would apply to anybody who works in a health care environment who has direct patient contact, he said.

Currently, Quandt said, a nurse could lose her license and then find work as a medical technician without anyone knowing about her license.

The bill would require a technician to register with a new state board and would establish a database of information, including such things as when and where a person worked and whether he or she was fired and why.

The same group of lawmakers is also working on a bill that would require mandatory drug testing for hospitals and other medical facilities.

Quandt said while many hospitals have mandatory drug testing policies, some are not routinely enforced.

“We're working with Health and Human Services to see what they will support and on the language to put in a bill,” Quandt said. Hospitals would be required to have mandatory drug testing policies, but each hospital would determine its own program, he said.

“We want to give hospitals a baseline, and then let them draw up the policy and put it in place,” Quandt said. Right now, hospitals want to do the right thing, he said, and lawmakers should build on that.

“We're hoping to change state law to prevent another event like happened at Exeter,” Quandt said.

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ANNUAL PICNIC: The New Hampshire Young Republican held its annual picnic/Lobster Bake on Saturday — at Aquaboggan Water Park in Saco, Maine.

David Hurst, president of the NHYR, said a relative owns the site and offered to let the group hold the event free of charge. Last year's picnic was held at New Castle Commons, Hurst noted, and had fixed costs of about $4,000; this year, the only major expense will be for food.

“I knew there would be some concern about (the event) being held outside New Hampshire,” Hurst said, “so we teamed up the Maine Young Republicans, and they will have about 15 or 20 people at the event, but the majority will be from New Hampshire.”

About 85 people attended.

Hurst said the group raised about $10,000 last year to support young Republican candidates for state offices.

Last year's event drew 500 people because the various presidential campaigns packed the place to participate in a straw poll, which was won by Ron Paul.

Results of this year's poll: for governor, Ovide Lamontagne, 78 percent, Kevin Smith, 22 percent; first congressional district, Frank Guinta, 84, Rick Parent, 12, Vern Clough, 4; second congressional district, Charlie Bass, 84, Will Dean, 4, Miroslaw Dziedzic, 4, and Dennis Lamare, 8.

Hurst touted the accuracy of past straw polls, noting the 2010 sampling had Kelly Ayotte defeating Ovide Lamontagne by one vote in the U.S. Senate race, a harbinger of the vote that September when Ayotte won by a narrow margin.

Saturday's Lobster Bake featured House Speaker William O'Brien.

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COMMUTER RAIL: The Business and Industry Association will host a forum on commuter rail Sept. 17 at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord.

In partnership with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, the Nashua Regional Planning Commission and the New Hampshire Economic Development Association, the forum is titled “Commuter Rail in New Hampshire — Economic Catalyst or Multi-Million Dollar Mistake?

Lawmakers and state officials have been studying the feasibility of commuter rail along the Capitol Rail Corridor from Concord to the Massachusetts border for many years.

However, for every proponent of the multimillion-dollar project, there is an opponent, some of whom are on the Executive Council, which recently voted to stop funding for a major feasibility study.

Opponents object to the cost, which they say will cost taxpayers for years to come.

The BIA forum will include “experts” who have dealt with the issue for years.

Panelists are Rep. Sherm Packard, chairman of the House Transportation Committee; Charlie Arlinghaus, president of The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy; Peter Burling, former chairman of the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority; and Jay Minkarah, economic development director for Manchester.

The program is scheduled to run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

There is no charge, but seating is limited.

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COMMITTEE BEGINS WORK: The Special Committee to Evaluate the NH State Liquor Commission and to Recommend Structural and Oversight Reforms begins work on Wednesday and has a two-a-week schedule for September and October.

O'Brien has given the committee a November deadline to issue its report in order for legislation to be drafted for the next session, which begins in January.

The first meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. in Rooms

210-211 of the Legislative Office Building.

O'Brien wants the committee to look at issues including possible illegal lobbying activities, possible bootlegging, knowingly giving false testimony to and hiding documentation from the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee, and ignoring administrative rules concerning the warehousing of products from local spirit manufacturers.

There are other issues as well, but perhaps the most volatile is the new warehouse contract request for proposals that went out in the spring for a 20-year agreement.

The deadline for a contract decision has been repeatedly extended and now is set for the middle of September.

Information recently released by the commission after O'Brien filed a right-to-know request does little to clear up the issue.

The current warehouse contract holder made allegations about a possible competitor obtaining proprietary information through a commission contractor.

All of this is likely to be aired and adds to the commission's dirty laundry that's already been on display.

What will be interesting to see is how far the committee and O'Brien are willing to go to broaden the investigation to the Attorney General's Office and how some key issues were handled.

Although the committee is not likely to bring down the price of alcohol, which would be the biggest benefit to the most people in the state, it may shed some light on what has been an agency that has had its own way of operating for many years.

After all, a $600 million business run by the state is bound to grab the attention of lots of folks.

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Garry Rayno may be reached at grayno@unionleader.com.


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