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Public Health Response – Situation Update 10

TULSA, OK – [April 16, 2013, 5:54 p.m. CST] –

Approximately 3,260 people have visited county health departments throughout the state to have their blood drawn for testing for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV following the March 28 announcement from the Tulsa Health Department and Oklahoma State Department of Health that patients of the W. Scott Harrington dental surgical practice may have been exposed to blood-borne viruses at Harrington’s Tulsa and Owasso offices. 

Of this number, 2,619 have been seen by the Tulsa Health Department, 57 by Oklahoma City-County Health Department, and 584 persons have visited at least 30 other county health departments to be screened. 

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports that 4,951 patient notification letters have been sent to current and former patients of Dr. Harrington to encourage them to be tested at free screening clinics established at county health departments. The Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Public Health Laboratory is providing the laboratory analysis on specimens collected at these sites. Persons tested will soon begin receiving their test results and those who test positive will be personally contacted and counseled about information specific to the disease for which the test was positive.  

Based on current Oklahoma disease prevalence data for hepatitis B and C and HIV, health officials recognize some of the screening results will be positive for infection exposure not related to dental procedures at the Harrington practice. From the most recent data available, an estimated 4,944 persons are living with HIV/AIDS in Oklahoma and as many as 68,000 Oklahomans may be infected with hepatitis C. Health officials stress they will conduct an individual case investigation for each person whose test result is identified as positive in an effort to determine when and how the person became infected. It is premature to arrive at any conclusions prior to further evaluation of each case. Individuals testing positive will be directed to resources for appropriate care and follow up, and if warranted, testing will be recommended for a spouse or partner. For every new infection of hepatitis C prevented by this public health response, $30,000 to $40,000 will be saved in associated health care costs.

Screening Appointments and Patient Information Hotline
Screening continues weekdays at the North Regional Health and Wellness Center, 5635 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Patients are advised to call the Patient Information Hotline (918)595-4500 to make an appointment for screening at the clinic. Patients can also contact the North Regional Health and Wellness Center directly at (918)595-4380 to schedule an appointment.  Walk-ins will still be accepted, however appointments are recommended in order to minimize wait times. 

English- and Spanish-speaking public health representatives will be available during normal business hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Anyone who was a patient at Dr. W. Scott Harrington’s dental practice should contact the hotline with any questions or to schedule a screening appointment.

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