11/30/10 — Health officials deny report of another death

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Health officials deny report of another death

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 30, 2010 1:46 PM

Health officials today were unable to confirm a radio station's report of a sixth death related to the hepatitis B outbreak at GlenCare assisted living facility in Mount Olive.

The station's report of a death surfaced Monday but was unsubstantiated.

Julie Henry, public information officer for the state Division of Public Health, said she had received another media inquiry on Monday about a reported death at GlenCare but had no knowledge of a sixth case.

"I don't really know where things stand," she said today. "(The state's) investigation is done, but we're monitoring patients."

In October, the state had announced that since August, five residents at GlenCare had tested positive for hepatitis B virus and that four of those had died over the span of three months. In early November, a fifth resident, a 71-year-old white man, died after being hospitalized at Wayne Memorial Hospital for nearly two weeks.

Investigations were conducted by the state's Division of Public Health and Division of Health Service Regulation, with findings including a "correlation between how they were testing and the outbreak."

In one of the reports, the state said the outbreak could be attributed to poor sanitation practices, particularly among diabetic patients who had their blood sugar tested regularly. Of the eight cases to date, seven had been diabetics.

The facility's license could have been revoked because of the violations, officials said, but regulators stopped short of taking that action because immediate efforts were made to correct problems when the outbreak began.

GlenCare still stands to be fined anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000, state officials noted.

Officials at Wayne County Health Department, which has also investigated the situation locally, said this morning that they were also unaware of any additional cases or deaths related to the outbreak.