- Officials at a southern New Jersey hospital sent our letters last week notifying 213 patients that they may have been exposed to an ex-employee's blood with HIV, hepatitis B or C due to drug tampering, the Associated Press reports.
- The patients had received intravenous morphine or hydromorphone medications at the Shore Medical Center in Somers Point between June 1, 2013, and Sept. 17, 2014.
- The former pharmacist, Frederick P. McLeish, was arrested last month and charged with drug tampering, theft, and drug possession after he had allegedely replaced morphine with saline solutions in vials administered to the patients, according to an internal investigation and an investigation by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office.
The hospital is urging patients who were treated with morphine or hydromorphone medications between June 1, 2013, and Sept. 17, 2014, to get tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C. It has set up a dedicated call center to answer additional questions and schedule testing appointments. Affected patients and family members can call Shore Medical's center at 609-653-3900.
A hospital statement issued Wednesday read, “We are providing free testing and support through every step and are partnering with local health department agencies during this testing period in order to be extremely cautious,” according to The Press of Atlantic City.
“The Department of Health is working with Shore Medical Center to investigate a potential infection control breach at the hospital,” said state department spokeswoman, Dawn Thomas.
Arlene Polmonari received one of the letters from Shore Medical. "A phone call would have been nicer than this," Polmonari told the Press of Atlantic City. "You know, to soften the blow a little, make people not feel so hysterical about it." Polmonari tested negative for all three diseases.
Invetigations into the matter are still underway.