Hep C Forum Draws Big Crowd

Patients caught in the middle of the hepatitis C scare showed up in force to a Saturday forum hoping to get some answers.

More than 200 people listened to a panel comprised of health officials, lawyers and even mental heath providers. The forum was put together by the Southern Nevada Health District.

"It let me get a lot of anger out of me," said Jayne Svela who says her anger has been building since learning she was infected with hepatitis C. Even though Svela called the forum a good opportunity to vent, she didn't feel she got real answers.

"They are trying to make us feel good about having hepatitis C and there not saying who is responsible and they are not saying what they are going to do to go after the people that did this to us."

Tables were set up offering information, mostly health information on the disease.

"Some of the symptoms I have now I can attribute to hepatitis C that I didn't know before, so now it makes me more aware so that when I go see my doctor I can say now I know why I'm having this," said James Romero, tested positive for hepatitis C.

Representatives from drug companies were on hand to explain what treatments are available and how hepatitis C can be managed.

"Seeing them walk away with a look of a little bit of relief, you gave them a little bit of information that they can go home and feel wow this is not a death sentence," said Bob Bravin, helping inform patients about hepatitis C.

But beyond the pamphlets many say the forum gave them very little. 

"These people are talking about the grief that we are going to go through but no one wants to discuss who is responsible for this and what is happening to the people responsible for this," Svela said.

The heath district says the goal of the forum was to link people to resources. Unfortunately they couldn't answer many questions about the investigation in to the endoscopy clinics or what will happen to the doctors and staff of those clinics.

"Definitely got some knowledge in terms of what some of the concerns are in the community what some of the deficits are in terms of things that we could be doing better or expand on," said Dr. Lawrence Sands, Southern Nevada Health District.

Right now only the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada is being linked to the hepatitis infections. They're being investigated for reusing syringes and vials of medicine. More than 40,000 people in Clark County have been notified that they may have been exposed to the disease.

One question that remains unclear is when patients will get their medical records back from Metro.

Attorneys representing patients who have filed lawsuits against the doctors met on Friday as they prepare for a class action lawsuit.

"I have 225 infected patients. I've been able to get the records for one client from Metro, and I think everyone is having the same type of difficulty," said attorney, Robert Eglet.

The health district has indicated that Metro is hiring a third party to handle the records.

The legislative committee on health care will meet Monday at 9 a.m. at the Grant Sawyer building. Lawmakers are expected to get a full update on the hepatitis investigation. Las Vegas ONE, Channel 19 and LasVegasNOW.com will have live coverage.

 

 


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