OGDEN, Utah -- A health care worker is believed to be connected to a Hepatitis C exposure at McKay-Dee Hospital, authorities confirmed Saturday.
Former registered nurse Elet Neilson, also known as Elet Hamblin, pleaded guilty to attempted possession or use of a control substance, a class A misdemeanor, in May. Neilson's license was revoked in December 2014 when she diverted quantities of controlled substances from her employer's stock for her own use without authorization from her employer or a valid prescription, according the Utah Division of Professional Licensing.
Tom Hudachko, spokesman for Utah Department of Health, said he became aware of the Hepatitis C case about a year ago. Through the course of the department’s investigation, Hudachko said, they were able to determine the likely source of infection for the individual could have come through treatment he/she received while in the emergency department at McKay-Dee Hospital.
Only two people are directly involved in the case, Hudachko said. But the nurse had contact with at least 4,800 people during her time of employment in the emergency department. At this time, authorities say, potential exposure occurred among patients who visited the ER between June 17, 2013 and Nov. 25, 2014, and received certain medication.
Hudachko said it's likely the individual and the nurse have the same rare strain of Hepatitits C, which leads investigators to believe the virus was shared between them.
"As to which way the virus moved, we'll probably never be able to track that," Hudachko said.
Hospital officials have sent letters to patients who may have been exposed to the virus.
“We believe that most of the patients who were potentially exposed will not contract Hepatitis C,” according to a release from McKay-Dee Hospital. “But it is important that they are tested as the consequences of contracting Hepatitis C are significant.”
Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus.
Some people with HCV have no symptoms and are not aware they have the illness. For more information on symptoms and treatments, visit http://health.utah.gov/epi/diseases/hepatitisC/investigation.
The hospital is offering free blood tests and will contact patients about additional follow up if blood tests show evidence of the virus.
Anyone with additional concerns can call McKay-Dee Hospital at 801-387-8580.
The investigation into the incident is ongoing, and details about the type of controlled substance the nurse was diverting and the motivation for that diversion have not been released.