02/18/11 — CDC: GlenCare shows need for more controls

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CDC: GlenCare shows need for more controls

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 18, 2011 1:46 PM

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News-Argus file photo

This photo shows the GlenCare assisted living facility in Mount Olive. Six clients at the facility died last year because of complications from hepatitis B.

Six hepatitis-related deaths at GlenCare last year have prompted the CDC to suggest the need for more vigilance in infection control, while local Health Department officials also hope to see expanded efforts in the inspections of facilities.

In a report released Thursday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the hepatitis outbreak at GlenCare of Mount Olive illustrates the need to step up efforts to ensure compliance with safety guidelines both at that facility and at others like it across the state.

State health officials last year found violations at the facility involving the unsafe sharing of blood glucose monitoring equipment. Reports said the faulty procedures likely spread hepatitis B to eight elderly residents, six of whom subsequently died.

The CDC review says similar lapses have caused 16 outbreaks of hepatitis B at assisted living facilities around the country since 2004.

At this week's Board of Health meeting, Health Director James Roosen said he favored more extensive efforts for inspecting nursing homes and assisted living. He would also like to push for better reporting of incidents -- whether it's a health or safety code violation or a foodborne illness, he said it is vital to notify health officials.

"Over the past four months, we have had a major hepatitis outbreak (that) killed six people," he said. "We need to expand the rules, it's very simple. We just need to get somebody in there. We need to look at cross contamination with blood, how needles are used."

The Environmental Health section of the Health Department is currently tasked with doing the inspections, typically twice a year.

"We're going to need Environmental Health to be in there," Roosen said. "We can't think of a better lower cost solution and (that) will help us to prevent further outbreaks."

--The Associated Press also contributed to this story.