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Chelsea Community Hospital Patients Unaffected by Steroid Injections

Patients are not at risk of contracting fungal meningitis according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Editor's note: This press release was submitted by Chelsea Community Hospital.

Patients who received spinal steroid injections at Chelsea Community Hospital, or any Saint Joseph Mercy Health System (SJMHS) hospital, are not at risk for contracting fungal meningitis, according to a press release issued by the hospital this week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration are coordinating a multi-state investigation of a rare form of fungal meningitis tied to a contaminated supply of epidural steroid injections, specifically methylprednisolone acetate, from New England Compounding Center based in Framingham, Mass.

The hospital said none of the St. Joseph Mercy Health System facilities receive methylprednisolone acetate from the New England Compounding Center.

The health system includes Chelsea Community Hospital, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, St. Joseph Mercy Livingston, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, St. Joseph Mercy Port Huron, and St. Mary Mercy Livonia and associated health centers in Brighton, Canton and Saline. The CDC has approved the supplies carried at these facilities as safe to continue to administer to patients.

“Steroid injections given at Chelsea Community Hospital are prepared here, and are done one patient at a time, not as a batch,” said Matthew H. Johnson, director of pharmacy said. “The methylprednisolone injection we use is a sterile product and played no role in the source of the infections. We do not use medications made by NECC.”

The hospital temporarily suspended methylprednisolone injections as a precaution on Oct. 5 until additional information was known. Once it was confirmed that its drug supply was safe, the hospital resumed the injections on Oct. 8.

“We completely understand why patients and families are very concerned about this outbreak,” said Lawrence Handelsman, vice president for medical affairs at CCH. “I can confidently tell you that none of our patients who have received or will receive epidurals or other spinal injections at our hospitals or at one of our hospitals' pain clinics are at any risk of being part of this outbreak.”

As of Oct. 5, physicians at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor have treated six confirmed cases that meet CDC's definition of fungal meningitis in patients who had also received epidural spinal steroid injections from one of the following four non-SJMHS clinics identified by the Michigan Department of Community Health:

  • Michigan Neurosurgical Institute in Grand Blanc
  • Michigan Pain Specialists in Brighton
  • Neuromuscular & Rehabilitation in Traverse City
  • Southeast Michigan Surgical Hospital in Warren.

The identified clinics are notifying patients who may be at risk.

The Infection Prevention and Control Services team and medical staff leadership began tracking meningitis symptoms among several patients, and have been working closely with the MDCH to facilitate early identification and treatment for other suspected cases. Hospitals and health centers are taking the following actions:

  • Proactively working with the medical staff, Infection Prevention and Control, the Michigan Department of Community Health and physician practices in identifying and treating patients who are at risk
  • Following the CDC’s recommendation to sequester all other products supplied by NECC.
  • Communicating with our health care providers and the community the clinical profile for patients who may have this fungal meningitis
  • Proactively treating patients who may have this fungal meningitis
  • Strongly encouraging people to seek medical care immediately if they think they are at risk.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include a severe headache, nausea, dizziness and fever. Fungal meningitis is not contagious like the more common forms, bacterial and viral meningitis.

St. Joseph Mercy Health System strongly encourages people who show symptoms – and have received a spinal steroid injection procedure from these practices since July 1, 2012 – to seek medical care immediately, as early treatment can prevent serious complications. For questions about this issue, patients are advised to contact their physician’s office.

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