By Ted Land (email@example.com)
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6:36 PM EDT, October 23, 2012
Elkhart General Hospital is currently treating ten patients for fungal meningitis, part of a nationwide outbreak linked to tainted back pain medicine.
The hospital has treated 26 fungal meningitis patients since the outbreak started, according to Karra Heggen, Vice President of Nursing for Elkhart General Hospital.
Heggen, along with the hospital’s pharmacy director, and the Elkhart County Health Officer, held a press conference, Tuesday, to further explain the local impact of the outbreak.
“We’re ready for whatever comes in our door,” said Heggen.
Elkhart General Hospital dedicated an entire unit to treating fungal meningitis, Heggen said, which allows doctors and nurses to specialize in treating an infection that, until recently, most medical professionals knew very little about.
“This particular kind of fungal meningitis is extraordinary,” said Dr. Dan Nafziger, Elkhart County Health Officer.
Medical staff held huddles three times a week to update one another on the latest treatment recommendations, Heggen said. They’ve also kept in close contact with the CDC, as well as state and county health officials.
The hospital initially treated patients with two different antibiotics, both IV drugs, but then the CDC changed its guidelines, instead recommending a single antifungal medication, which can be administered through an IV or through pills.
According to Susan Hawes, Director of Pharmacy for Elkhart General, the hospital is helping provide anti-fungal medication, through a special-needs program, to uninsured patients who cannot afford the expensive pills.
The drug’s manufacturer also has a patient assistance program, Hawes said.
Three patients are undergoing treatment for the infection at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, according to a spokesperson.
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