Eighty have had the blood test, but the hospital needs to reach another 160 former patients.

Ask-A-Nurse call center
Peyton Chowning and other resource nurses, call to
contact patients for Hepatitis C screenings at Riverside
Support Services in Newport News on Thursday.
(Sangjib Min, Daily Press / March 27, 2008)

Eighty Riverside patients had undergone precautionary hepatitis C screenings as of Friday afternoon, and 70 more were scheduled for screenings.

Riverside Regional Medical Center nurses were still trying to reach 160 other patients since news broke Wednesday that a former Riverside contractor was suspected of infecting patients with hepatitis C in Texas in 2004.

Jon Dale Jones, a nurse anesthetist who worked as an independent contractor at Riverside July 9 to Dec. 22, is accused of infecting up to 15 patients and stealing their painkillers during surgeries in Texas.

TheĀ Riverside Nurse call center on Wednesday started calling the 310 patients who may have come in contact with Jones.

Nurses must talk to the patients personally to protect patient confidentiality.

"Right now, we're going back and trying to reach the ones we did not reach on the first attempt," said Peter Glagola, Riverside public relations director. "We'll continue to call a third time if we need to. We'll bring more staff on for Saturday because we believe that will be a better day to reach people."

As of 4 p.m. Friday, 623 people had called to find out whether they were one of the 310 patients. Nine were, and nurses scheduled screenings for them, Glagola said. Former Riverside patients with questions can call Riverside Nurse at 875-7880.

Riverside officials said there's no reason to believe the patients contracted hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus. It spreads through contact with infected blood.

The disease is responsible for killing 8,000 to 10,000 people each year in the United States, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

The screening is a simple blood test, and results will be back within four days. When results start coming in, nurses will call the patients back.

"Whether it's positive or negative, we will tell them," Glagola said.


Published: March 29, 2008