Andover Woman Victim Of Intentional Hepatitis C Infection

By: KAKE News Email
By: KAKE News Email

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Friday, August 10, 2012

As a multi-state investigation of a former traveling lab technician suspected of infecting thousands of people with Hepatitis C continues, a Kansas woman has learned she has the dangerous disease.

Linda Ficken learned this week she was infected two years ago, when the technician, David Kwiatkowski, was working at Hays Medical Center. She is just one of nearly 500 people in Kansas, and thousands nationwide, who may have been infected with the disease.

Authorities believe Kwiatkowski spread the disease by injecting himself with drugs at hospitals where he worked then putting the dirty syringes back for use on patients.

"At first I was upset," Ficken said. "And then I became angry. And the more I thought about it, the angrier I got."

Speaking with KAKE News by telephone from Atwood, Ficken said she is angry with Kwiatkowski and she is not sure what she would say to him if she came face-to-face with him.

"I'd ask him what I did to him that would cause him to do this to me and my family," she said. "I would try to be that civil, but I don't know. I might not because I can be sometimes not nice. I might just totally unleash on him."

Kwiatkowski is suspected of exposing patients at hospitals in eight states to Hepatitis C. Ficken and at least 459 others were exposed when Kwiatkowski worked at Hays Medical Center from May 2010 to September 2010.

"I am just as angry at the facilities that let this guy get by with this stuff," Ficken said. "That did check him out as well as they should have."

There's plenty of reason for Ficken to be angry.

"This guy screwed up my life and my kids are absolutely worried sick," she said. "There's a good chance that my husband has it, so he's got to be tested."

Ficken also said legal action is likely.

"There's somebody out in this area that's handling the Kansas people," Ficken said, referring to legal action being prepared across the country. "And the lawyer back east is supposed to be contacting the lawyers here."

Linda said she now has to be much more mindful of things she did not even have to think about before. For example, saying good bye to a friend just the other day.

"He used to always give me a kiss," she said. "And I wouldn't kiss him."

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

An Andover woman is one of nearly 500 Kansans who could have been infected with Hepatitis C by a lab tech who is facing federal charges in New Hampshire.

David Kwiatkoski is accused of injecting himself with syringes, then refilling and replacing them. Court documents say Kwiatkowski has Hepatitis C and passed it on to hospital patients who were injected with his used syringes.

In the past five years Kwiatkowski has worked in 13 hospitals in eight states, including HaysMed in Hays, Kansas.

Linda Ficken used to live in Atwood. About two years ago, she suffered from some heart issues and was treated at HaysMed. During that time, David Kwiatkowski was working in the same lab where Ficken was treated.

When Ficken got a letter from HaysMed on Saturday, she says she was surprised. It's been nearly two years since she was a patient there.

“Absolutely no need to give it any more thought. You know, I’m doing fine,” Ficken said.

Once she read the letter, Linda says she wasn't feeling quite so fine.

“Stuff like this doesn't happen. You read about it on the news and don't think anymore about it but when it hits you it's like 'oh my God,'” Ficken said.

Ficken is one of about 460 people who received the same letter from HaysMed. It was sent out to anyone treated in the HaysMed cardiac catheterization lab from May to September of 2010. That's when Kwiatkowski was working there at radiology technician.

“Because of the alleged activity that occurred in other states, there's a potential risk those same activities occurred at Hays Medical Center,” Kansas Department of Health and Environment epidemiologist Charlie Hunt said.

The letter encourages former HaysMed patients to get tested immediately for Hepatitis C. Ficken didn't waste any time. As soon as she got her letter, she made an appointment with her doctor.

Ficken still has to wait a few weeks for her results. She says even though she's concerned, she doesn't plan to worry over the outcome.

“If the test comes back negative and I start worrying now then I’ve wasted a lot of time worrying if it comes back positive. Worrying isn't going to make any difference,” Ficken said.

KDHE officials say they aren't releasing any of the Hepatitis C test results they've received until all of the lab work can be completed. They do believe that only those patients treated in the HaysMed cardiac catheterization lab during that four-month period are at risk.

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