County health departments rely on the Department of Health and Human Resources to test blood samples for hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted diseases.
The Charleston Daily Mail reports that the DHHR’s Office of Laboratory Services recently sent a letter to the county departments notifying them that it does not have any test kits. The office cited problems with the bid process for a new contract to supply the kits.
"With our deepest apologies to our customers, the WV Office of Laboratory Services is temporarily ceasing HCV (hepatitis C virus) testing," the unsigned letter stated.
The state’s contract with a California company that supplied the kits expired earlier this year. The Office of Laboratory Services’ letter said two bids for a new contract didn’t meet the specifications.
The office estimates that it needs an average of about 150 hepatitis C test kits a week, or 7,700 a year, if they are all used. It expects to get more kits by Nov. 1.
"My instinct is if we were unable to test for that, we would seek outside sources, which would most likely be CDC," said Susan Jordan, nurse supervisor for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, referring to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Jordan said a patient who came in last week to be screened for sexually transmitted diseases was irate that she could not receive the hepatitis C testing.
___ Information from: Charleston Daily Mail.