First round of hepatitis, HIV tests come back negative for potentially exposed Ballad patient

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The joy of closing on a new house was dampened for Amy Hunter this week as she waited for results of hepatitis and HIV tests. Those tests were prompted by a potential exposure to the viruses during a post-surgical stay at Johnson City Medical Center.

Ballad Health acknowledged Friday that up to 100 patients may have been affected by a contract nurse who “improperly handled controlled substances” between May and July on a single patient care unit.

Hunter told News Channel 11 she had learned Wednesday those results were negative. But she called the time between receiving a letter from Ballad Health and getting her results the longest six days of her life.

Amy Hunter said she’ll be retested later this year.

“By the grace of God, my test results were negative but you know, I have to be tested in six months,” said Hunter, who just moved into a new home with her husband and 11-year-old son.

“It was a good relief for me to know that everything came back, but the wait up until then was unbearable.”

Hunter was among dozens of patients Ballad notified last week “of a potential situation involving a medication incident,” according to a letter sent to patients.

The letter to Hunter, which came July 22, hours after she received a phone call from Ballad, “encouraged” her, “as a precaution, to be tested for possible exposure to certain viruses, including hepatitis C, hepatitis B and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).”

Ballad provided media a statement July 30 that said as many as 100 patients may have been affected “by the violation of policies intended to protect patients.”

Hunter said she’s been talking with an attorney about possible legal action. She said the days between July 22 and Wednesday were filled with racing thoughts.

“How could Ballad have let this happen? What’s going to be implemented to stop this from happening again?”

Having to get tested again makes Hunter very nervous, she said.

“If anybody else was in my shoes other than the other 100, they would be worried as well,” she said.

Hunter works in school foodservice, and if she had tested positive for hepatitis — or if she does eventually — she said she’d voluntarily leave that job field.

“I would not do that because I love those children, and it’s not fair to them or to anybody else that I work with to expose them to something so horrific.”

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