Dear Patient: Risk of Infections Spread Through Blood at Life Care Dialysis Center

September 15, 2008

Dear Patient,

I am writing to let you know of an investigation being conducted by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). This investigation suggests that a person was infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) as a result of undergoing dialysis at the Life Care Dialysis Center at 221 West 61st Street, New York, New York. HCV is a viral infection that can damage the liver and is spread through the blood.

Several problems at this facility were found that may have put patients at risk for HCV and other infections spread through the blood. These infections include hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Patients who were treated at the center or at home through Life Care Dialysis Center after January 23, 2004, may be at risk. Records show you received dialysis through Life Care Dialysis Center after this date. The NYSDOH recommends that you get tested for HBV, HCV, and HIV.

It is impossible to know your true risk of infection. It is important that you get tested, even if you do not remember feeling ill. Treatment is available for each of these infections. HBV, HCV, and HIV can be acquired in a number of different ways. A positive test does not mean that you were infected at this facility. Spread of these infections through dialysis is not common. We do not know of any patient who became infected with HBV or HIV through this facility.

Testing for HBV, HCV, and HIV is done with a simple blood test. HIV testing can also be performed by swabbing your gums. Life Care Dialysis Center will pay for all testing. If you receive dialysis now, you can be tested at your next regularly scheduled visit. If you do not get dialysis now, or wish to be tested sooner, you may call Life Care's administrative consultant to arrange for free testing, or to find out about reimbursement for the costs of testing by your own provider. You can reach Life Care's administrative consultant at 866-926-1987, Monday to Friday, between the hours of 9am - 8pm, and Saturday and Sunday, between the hours of 9am – 5pm.

If you do not wish to be tested by Life Care or its administrative consultant, your regular doctor can test you for any or all three infections. Life Care Dialysis Center will still pay for all costs of testing. In addition, anonymous HIV testing is available to all individuals through NYSDOH. Phone numbers for these HIV testing centers are available online at or by calling 1-800-541-AIDS.

Testing for HBV and HCV is usually a routine part of dialysis treatment; testing for HIV is not. Regardless of previous testing, you should be tested now for HIV and, if you were not tested within the past month for HBV and HCV, you should be tested now for HBV and HCV. You should also be tested for HBV and HCV six months after your last treatment through Life Care Dialysis Center. Depending on the type of HIV test you receive, you may need to be tested again for HIV three months after your last treatment through Life Care Dialysis Center.

You should talk with your doctor about the results of any testing you have had previously. Enclosed is a letter for you to bring to your doctor to help explain which tests you may need and help answer your questions.

Enclosed is information on HBV, HCV, and HIV testing. If you have any questions or concerns, please call the New York State Department of Health at 1-800-278-2965.


Richard F. Daines, M.D.
Commissioner of Health