RRMC did not buy contaminated steroid shots
SALISBURY - Although Rowan Regional Medical Center appears on a list of customers of the New England Compounding Center, the hospital did not buy any of the contaminated epidural steroid injections from the Framingham, Mass. facility.
The hospital buys one product from the compounding pharmacy, a topical anesthetic used in the emergency department that was not involved in the recall, President Dari Caldwell said.
The death toll reached 25 Friday after another person died in Tennessee, the state hardest hit by the outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to steroid shots from the Massachusetts compounding pharmacy.
Nearly 300 other people have become ill, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Health Department is not aware of any fungal meningitis cases in Rowan County, according to nursing supervisor Sharon Owen.
Caldwell said all drugs and injectable medications used at Rowan Regional are purchased by Novant Health, the hospital's parent company.
As soon as she heard about the contaminated steroid shots, Caldwell said she checked and learned Rowan Regional patients were not at risk.
"Thank God in heaven," she said.
Bobby Golibart of Salisbury also heaved a sigh of relief when he learned the epidural steroid injections he relies on to control chronic back pain did not come from the contaminated batches.
"Absolutely," he said.
Golibart receives one injection every three months at a Salisbury pain clinic. He injured his back in 2006 on the job as the theater technical director for Central Piedmont Community College.
A nurse told Golibart the clinic doesn't use the New England Compounding Center, which has come under scrutiny since the outbreak.
Reuters reported Tuesday that newly released state records show the pharmacy escaped harsh punishment from health regulators several times, raising questions about oversight of the customized drug mixing industry.
Compounding pharmacies specialize in making medicines for patients whose needs cannot be met by off-the-shelf drugs.
Problems at the New England Compounding Center date as far back as 1999, the year after it began operations, according to hundreds of pages of documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request, Reuters reported.
Medical expert say they expect more meningitis cases related to the outbreak to surface in the coming weeks.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.