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Risk Of Disease Transmission In Galveston And Texas City Clinics Causes Resignations

A recent accreditation site review found breaches in infection control related to dental and medical procedures

An accreditation site review conducted in February at the Coastal Health & Wellness clinics located in Galveston and Texas City found breaches in infection control related to dental and medical procedures.

The Galveston County Health District (GCHD) announced Friday that the members of the governing board of Coastal Health & Wellness (CHW) have named Kathy Barroso as CHW’s interim executive director following the resignation of two clinic directors. Barroso also serves as the GCHD’s CEO.

The GCHD said in a news release that CHW’s executive director Mary McClure offered her resignation on Thursday to the members of the governing board and they accepted it. Dr. Beverly M. Foster, who served as dental director at the clinic, also resigned.

The resignations came as the GCHD works in conjunction with the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to investigate the risk of disease transmission related to the infection control practices at CHW clinics in Galveston and Texas City.

According to the news release, the investigation was triggered by a recent Joint Commission accreditation site review conducted on February 12 and 13, which identified breaches in infection control related to some dental and medical procedures that may have put patients at risk for the Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus and HIV.

Upon notification of the findings, dental and medical procedures at CHW that required sterilization of instruments were suspended and an investigation was immediately initiated by the GCHD.

“Although we have no conclusive evidence at this time that disease transmission has taken place from procedures that were performed at Coastal Health & Wellness, we want to err on the side of caution and offer testing to any patients who could have been impacted,” said Dr. Philip Keiser, Galveston County Local Health Authority.

Individuals who received certain dental or medical procedures at CHW from March 1, 2015, to February 13, 2018, are strongly advised to get tested for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV, which will be provided free of charge at the GCHD’s office.

A complete list of the procedures can be found online at www.gchd.org/chwhealthcheck.

The GCHD informed that health officials also notified patients directly who meet the criteria for testing. However, anyone who has a question related to their status can contact the GCHD Investigation Hotline at 409-938-2397.

Patients who have not undergone invasive medical or dental procedures requiring sterilization of equipment, such as blood draws, are not at risk and do not require testing.

Keiser said that, as of Thursday March 29, 1,388 appointments had been made with 1,082 patients being tested. Results had been returned on 510 tests and all showed negative results for the Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus and HIV.

Testing will continue through April 13 at the Galveston County Health District Public Health Office, located at 9850 Emmett F Lowry Expressway, Entrance B, Texas City.

Appointments can be made online at www.gchd.org or by calling the GCHD Investigation Hotline number at 409-938-2397.

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