We send our best wishes in a special way today to our friends in Minot, North Dakota. Minot is the location of a healthcare-assoicated outbreak of Hepatitis C in which 44 residents of a nursing home were infected. Public health officials continue to investigate, but the exact cause is a mystery at this time. We send our best wishes for the good health and comfort for all the victims and their families.
I well remember those days of questions and confusion. When I found out I had Hepatitis C in early 2002, my husband and I were so stigmatized by the diagnosis that we told no one. We were alone in our worry and puzzlement. It wasn’t until several years later, after the public health investigation and discovery of facts through litigation, that we understood the cause and magnitude of the Nebraska Hepatitis C outbreak. The community was shocked that 99 people had been infected through re-use of syringes during chemotherapy at our local oncology clinic.
Once I learned that we had contracted this deadly disease through healthcare services, I let go of my feelings of stigma. Having Hepatitis C caused many difficult emotions, but shame was not one of them. I was frightened, confused and angry. I mourned the loss of good health, peace of mind and confidence in our healthcare system. I was overwhelmed with the amount of new information I had to process and the decisions I had to make regarding my health, my family’s welfare, my finances, and possible legal recourse.
Members of our community hosted several information sessions to address these questions. Some of us formed an informal support group. We learned to cope in the years following the Nebraska outbreak. I believe that the people of the North Dakota outbreak will as well. And we want to help you learn to cope.
At HONOReform, our primary aim is the elimination of outbreaks caused by lack of adherence to national injection safety standards. But, despite robust national awareness and advocacy for injection safety, outbreaks continue to occur. We offer our support to the people who are affected by outbreaks. We are glad for the opportunity—which is a privilege and at the center of our mission—to help support patients and communities as they learn to cope with the many consequences of an outbreak.
Steve Langan, executive director of HONOReform, is in Minot today, Monday, April 21. He would like to meet with Hepatitis C outbreak victims and family members to determine their needs and goals – and to see how HONOReform can help.
He will be meeting with victims/family members at the Hyatt House, which is located in north Minot at the junction of the 83 Bypass & 21st Avenue NW (2301 Landmark Drive). Steve will be available from 11-1 and 4-6 in the Hyatt’s gathering room (take a right after you enter the building and it is just a few steps down the hall). For those who cannot see Steve at Hyatt House, it is possible to schedule an appointment for him to come to them (between 1 and 4 pm and after 6 pm). Steve’s direct phone number is 402.659.6343 and his email address is steve@HONOReform.org. We encourage everyone to contact him anytime.