Westchester Co. Hospital Notifies Patients of Possible Hep C Exposure

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 15, 2009) - A Westchester County hospital is notifying approximately 2,800 patients by letter today of possible exposure to hepatitis C after learning that Kristen Diane Parker, a surgical technician suspected of transmitting the virus to patients in Colorado, had previously worked at the hospital. The State Health Department is working closely with the hospital to ensure that any patients who underwent surgery at the hospital while Parker worked there are contacted and offered free testing.

Ms. Parker worked as a surgical technician at Northern Westchester Hospital (NWH) between October 8, 2007 and February 28, 2008. Later, she began work at a hospital in Colorado, where she is alleged to have self-injected narcotic pain medications using syringes that she later filled and replaced, possibly exposing patients to infection. Ten Colorado patients have been identified who may have contracted hepatitis C from Parker.

No patient treated at NWH while Parker worked at the hospital is known to have contracted the virus there. Additional information has emerged, however, suggesting that Parker may have engaged in similar conduct when employed at NWH, although it is not known whether she was infected with hepatitis C at that time.

DOH is recommending that only those patients who had surgery at NWH between October 8, 2007 and February 28, 2008 be tested for hepatitis C. The testing is being coordinated by the hospital and a Patient Help Line at 914-666-1902 is available to answer questions.

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus and is spread by contact with the blood of an infected person. It is estimated that 1.6 percent of the U.S. population has been infected with hepatitis C.