GALVESTON, Texas (FOX 26) - The Galveston County Health District is working with the Department of State Health Services to investigate the risk of disease transmission related to infection control practices at the Coastal Health & Wellness clinics located in Texas City and Galveston.
The investigation was launched following a recent accreditation site review conducted from Feb. 12 until Feb. 13.
"Although we have no conclusive evidence at this time that disease transmission has taken place from procedures that were performed at Coastal Health & Wellness, we want to err on the side of caution and offer testing to any patients who could have been impacted," said Dr. Philip Keiser, Galveston County Local Health Authority.
"Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV are serious medical conditions," added Keiser. "People who are infected may not exhibit any symptoms of the disease for many years, so that is why it is important to get tested and treated".
The findings identified breaches in infection control related to some dental and medical procedures that may have put patients at risk for the Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus and HIV.
Following the initial review, dental and medical procedures at Coastal Health & Wellness that required sterilization of instruments were suspended on Feb. 14 and GHCD immediately began its investigation.
Anyone who received certain dental or medical procedures at CHW from March 1, 2015 until Feb. 13, 2018, are strongly advised to get tested for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV, which will be provided free of charge at the GCHD office. For a complete list of the procedures affected by this investigation, visit www.gchd.org/chwhealthcheck.
Health officials will also be notifying patients directly who meet the criteria for testing; however, anyone who has a question related to their status can contact the GCHD investigation hotline by phone at 409-938-2397 and an operator will be available to assist them. Patients who have not undergone invasive medical or dental procedures requiring sterilization of equipment, such as blood draws, are not at risk and do not require testing.
Testing services will begin on Monday, March 26, 2018 at the Galveston County Health District Public Health Office lon 9850 Emmett F Lowry Expressway, Entrance B, in Texas City and will continue until Friday, April 13, 2018. To schedule an appointment, visit www.gchd.org or contact the GCHD Investigation Hotline number at 409-938-2397. Anyone who lives outside Galveston County should contact their physician or local health department to arrange testing.
Operators will be available via the GCHD Investigation Hotline starting on Monday, March 26 at 409-938-2397 between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 AM until 3 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays to assist any Coastal Health & Wellness patients who may have additional questions.
“I came here to get it extracted,” says a man who wishes not to be known. In the fall of 2016, this man came to a Texas City location of the clinic Coastal Health & Wellness and says he got a tooth extracted.
He says, “I came back a couple of months later, a month and a half maybe later to get another tooth extracted but they couldn’t do it because I was cramping so they sent me to the doctor and they did blood work on me and then after that they called me back and informed me that I had Hepatitis C.”
But the man says with previous blood work he had done, he had never tested positive for Hepatitis C. “I knew there was no way I could’ve contracted it but they didn’t have a clue of how I received it,” he says.
The man says he’s now worried because this week the Galveston County Health District issued an advisory asking people that have had medical or dental procedures at either the Texas City or Galveston location to be tested for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.
Dr. Philip Keiser with the Galveston County Local Health Authority says, “Coastal Health and Wellness which is an independent health center was cited for 11 immediate threat to life violations all of which centered around cleaning and sterilization of dental instruments and instruments use for minor surgery.”
Officials with the clinics governing board say they are cooperating fully with the health district and have stop services as of February 14.
“Speaking for the governing board I want to say that we are fully committed to the safety and well-being of patients and employees Coastal Health and Wellness and we are fully cooperating with the Galveston County Health District investigation,”Dr. Milton Howard says.