Omaha Winnebago Hospital patients possibly exposed to contaminated instrument

Omaha Winnebago Hospital patients possibly exposed to contaminated instrument

A health warning tonight for patients who recently visited a Northeast Nebraska hospital.

The Indian Health Service Hospital in Winnebago is recommending some of its patients get tested for two strains of hepatitis and HIV.

Approximately 35 patients who visited the Podiatry Clinic at the Omaha Winnebago Hospital, were possibly exposed to a contaminated instrument.

That exposure may have happened between the months of April and June of this year.

The Carl T. Curtis Health Education Center in Macy is warning those patients about blood- borne pathogens like hepatitis B and C, and H- I- V, and offering testing to those potentially infected.

"We are offering our help to the patients of the Omaha Winnebago Hospital. Our facility, we've got a lab, pharmacy, x-ray, we've got physicians and nursing staff that's willing to educate. We want to help and I believe everybody at the Omaha Winnebago knows that we are available to help them as well," said Mark Morgan Clinical Director, Carl T. Curtis Health Education Center.

A community information meeting and Q and A session regarding The Podiatry Clinic at The Omaha Winnebago IHS Hospital will take place tomorrow.

It starts at 10 am at the Winnebago Hospital. Members of the Omaha and Winnebago tribes are encouraged to attend.

The hospital issued this statement:

Hospital Statement: "The Indian Health Service recently learned that there is a small risk that patients who visited the Podiatry Clinic at the Omaha- Winnebago Hospital between April 17, 2017 and June 2, 2017 might have been exposed to an infectious agent, because a podiatry instrument was not properly sterilized between patients.

At this time, we are not aware of any patients having become infected; however, as a precautionary measure, we recommend that patients get tested for hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). We are recommending testing for 35 of the 250 patients seen in the podiatry clinic during this timeframe.

We understand the seriousness of this situation, and the Indian Health Service has since taken a series of immediate steps to improve the practices in the Omaha Winnebago Hospital's Podiatry Clinic. We are investigating this situation thoroughly. In addition to notifying patients, we assembled a team of experts in quality management, environmental health, and public health. We are also working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as they conduct an assessment of current practices at the facility. The in-depth review will provide important information about what happened, why it occurred, and will help us understand if we need to take any further action or make any changes to prevent this from happening in the future.

Patient safety and wellbeing is a priority of the utmost importance for the IHS. Rapid action was taken as soon as this issue was identified to protect our patients from any further risk. We understand the uncertainty and concern this may cause, and we want to be completely transparent about the actions we are taking to protect our patients and eliminate this risk. We are recommending testing to ensure the safety of our patients. Patients who had podiatry procedures before April 17, 2017 or after June 2 are not considered to be at risk for potential exposure to infection."

The Omaha Winnebago Hospital remains open and will continue to treat patients.

The Winnebago Service Unit provides comprehensive health care to American Indians and Alaska Natives in the Sioux City area, including members of the Winnebago and Omaha Tribes. For more information about IHS's Winnebago Service Unit, visit

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