EXETER, N.H. (AP) — Exeter Hospital said Friday it is no longer in danger of losing its Medicare and Medicaid funding after problems were discovered following a hepatitis C outbreak last spring.

The hospital said that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has confirmed it is meeting all conditions of participation in the programs. In October, the government had said it planned to terminate the funding on Dec. 28 if the problems weren’t fixed.

The CMS had pointed out hospital deficiencies as early as July, such as improving policies on controlling infections and administering drugs. The inspection was trigged by the case of David Kwiatkowski, a former cardiac catheterization lab worker accused of stealing drugs from the hospital and replacing them with tainted syringes that were later used on patients.

The hospital said the CMS made its determination after a follow-up survey on Monday and Tuesday. A three-person team focused on standards that apply to the hospital’s governing body, infection control, medication security, quality assurance, facilities and security.

“I wish to express my deepest gratitude to all of our dedicated staff who serve our organization with integrity and professionalism while delivery extraordinary care to our patients every day,” hospital CEO Kevin Callahan said in a statement.

The CMS report in July said nurses at the cardiac lab left syringes unattended after removing medication from machines. The hospital has since implemented a policy that requires filled syringes to be placed in a locked drawer until needed.

Kwiatkowski, whom prosecutors describe as a “serial infector,” was recently indicted on multiple charges of tampering with a consumer product and illegally obtaining drugs. He pleaded not guilty in federal court on Monday.

Until May, Kwiatkowski worked at Exeter Hospital, where 32 patients were diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C he carries. Before that, he worked as a traveling technologist in 18 hospitals in seven states, moving from job to job despite having been fired twice over allegations of drug use and theft.

Thousands of patients in Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania have since been tested for hepatitis C, a blood-borne viral infection that can cause liver disease and chronic health issues. In addition to the New Hampshire patients, a handful of patients in Kansas and one in Maryland have been found to carry the strain Kwiatkowski carries.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.


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