MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. — Health Departments in the northern panhandle are preparing for what could be a rush of people who want to be tested to find out if they’ve been infected with hepatitis B and C or HIV.
The state Department of Health and Human Resources announced Monday patients who received care at a the Valley Pain Management clinic in McMechen could have been infected with the diseases after staff at the site allegedly reused syringes on more than one patient.
Marshall County Health Department Administrator Rhonda Francis said they’ve already received a number of phone calls from patients with questions.
“I’d say (we’d received) probably a dozen or so calls as of (Tuesday) morning,” according to Francis. As the word spreads, she’s expecting more inquires.
Patients at the clinic from the time it opened in 2010 to Nov. 1, 2013 need to be tested. The DHHR has been trying to get a patient list from Valley Pain Management so those involved can be notified but so far the clinic has refused to hand over those names.
“This is a precaution that’s being taken just to assure those folks who may have been exposed have been tested,” stressed Francis.
State epidemiologist Loretta Haddy said on MetroNews Talkline Tuesday the local health department discovered the problem at the clinic.
“A patient developed bacterial meningitis one day after receiving an epidural injection at the Valley Pain Management,” Haddy said. “The health department, as part of an investigation into that outbreak, identified infection control problems.”
Haddy emphasized it’s important for patients with private insurance to see their doctors. For those who do not, health departments will do the testing for free.
“We have been working with the (state) Bureau of Public Health and have received a number of test kits to begin testing people that don’t have insurance,” Francis said.
Pain clinic patients can call their local health department. Someone will screen them to make sure they have been exposed and then they’ll set up a date and time for the test. However, Francis said the test may not link the infectious diseases back to the clinic.
“Of course there’s no guarantee that a positive test result would link them directly as a responsibility of that pain clinic. Infections can be contracted in many different places and ways.”
The DHHR said testing is available for patients until Oct. 21 at the following locations:
Hancock County Health Department (304) 564-3343
Brooke County Health Department (304) 737-3665
Wheeling – Ohio Health Department (304) 234-3682
Marshall County Health Department (304) 845-7840
Wetzel – Tyler Health Department (304) 337-2001
Ohio residents should call 1-844-593-5184 for additional information.
Pennsylvania residents should call 877-PA HEALTH (877-724-3258) to make arrangements for testing.