Ficken is one of 460 patients Hays Med is contacting. The patients all underwent cardiac catheterization from May 24, 2010 to September 22, 2010. That's when radiology technician David Kwiatkowski worked at the Hays hospital. He's accused in New Hampshire of engaging in drug diversion and infecting patients with hepatitis C while employed at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire.
Due to the fact that Kwiatkowski worked as a contract radiology technician in the HaysMed cardiac catheterization laboratory from May 24, 2010, to Sept. 22, 2010, HaysMed and KDHE are working together to notify all patients who were treated at the cardiac catheterization lab during this time and recommend they receive testing for hepatitis C.
“I had no idea if this guy treated me or was around me or anything else.” Linda Ficken received a letter from Hays Medical Center on Saturday via certified mail advising her to get tested. She is understandably concerned but she refuses to let worry rule her. “I'm not worried. I'm not worried. Concerned, yeah, a little but worry is a waste of time and effort.”
Ficken may refuse to be worried but she's also not taking any chances. As soon as she read the letter from HaysMed she called her local doctor's office and arranged to be tested for Hepatitis C on Tuesday. But that wasn't the end of it. Another call Wednesday morning had her hurrying back to the doctor.
“They needed to draw some more blood because, the way they said, one of the tests was iffy.”
Ficken doesn't remember if she was treated by C. David Kwiatkoski while he worked in the cardiac catheterization lab at HaysMed in 2010 although she was treated there during that time period.
“His name or face does not ring a bell at all,” Ficken said. “As far as I know, no one out there knew what this guy was doing. So I'm sure it was a big shock to them.”
Her biggest concern isn't her own health, but that of her family and friends.
“It's not a death sentence. I suppose it could be, but, I'm 70 years old. I'm not going to worry about it,” said Ficken. “But according to the letter, you know, this can be transmitted to other people. Well I want to know what I need to do if I would have this, what I need to do to protect the ones that I'm around. You know? I don't want to pass this on to anybody.”
Hepatitis c is a life-long liver infection caused by a virus that's spread through the blood. It can cause long-term liver damage, cirrhosis of the liver and other chronic problems and is the leading cause of liver transplants. Or, it can lay dormant in the blood stream for the rest of a person's life, never causing a problem.
“It's a little bit disconcerting, you know,” said Fricken. “If it comes to be, then it is. That's all there is to it.”
Linda Fricken said she was particularly grateful for the fact sheet about Hepatitis C that Hays Medical Center included in its warning letter.
She should get the final results of her tests within the week. As patients are tested, blood samples are being sent on to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. HaysMed should have complete results within two to three weeks.
If any patients do test positive the hospital is making a variety of treatment options available to them.
Anyone who was treated in the Cardiac Catheterization lab at Hays Medical Center between May and September of 2010 and has not received a warning letter already should call the hospital's hotline at 877-261-7140