State Digest

STATE DIGEST

August 03, 2007

Patient was likely source of TB, Hopkins says

A Johns Hopkins Hospital employee who tested positive for tuberculosis in March probably contracted the infection from a patient, hospital officials said yesterday.

The employee, who works in a nonmedical position, is undergoing treatment for the infection, which is "very treatable," said hospital spokesman David March. The employee tested positive for the bacterium during a routine annual skin test.

"The employee is expected to make a full recovery and is not now and was never considered highly contagious or a threat to the health of co-workers or other staff and patients at Johns Hopkins," March said in a prepared statement.

Hopkins officials said the source of the infection was probably a patient treated for an unrelated condition last year between August and December. The patient tested positive for tuberculosis in December and is also receiving drug treatment for the infection.

No other Hopkins employees or patients who were possibly exposed to the TB strain have tested positive for the bacterium, officials said.

On July 20, the Baltimore Health Department notified Hopkins that the patient and the employee probably had the same strain of TB.

Hopkins officials have identified and contacted about 20 additional patients who might have been exposed to the TB strain, March said. He added that most hospital staff have received annual screening and "several thousand" additional employees will probably be tested for TB.

"A thorough and standard hospital investigation of how and where the employee could have contracted TB is still under way," March wrote. "Tuberculosis experts at Hopkins say the risk of possible transmission from patient to staff, staff to staff, or patient to patient, remains very low."

Chris Emery

Talbot County

: Easton

Guilty plea in false-permit case

UPDATE: The charges were expunged from Rinehart's record.

A Cordova woman who was employed by the Department of Social Services in three counties pleaded guilty in Talbot County Circuit Court yesterday to charges that she practiced social work without a license, state officials said.

Jennifer Mast Rinehart was sentenced to a 60-day suspended sentence, two years of supervised probation and 100 hours of community service. In addition, Rinehart was sentenced in Anne Arundel Circuit Court to a concurrent 60-day suspended sentence, a $500 fine, and one year unsupervised probation.

Rinehart provided her employers in Anne Arundel and Talbot counties with fraudulent Maryland licenses to practice social work, according to the Maryland attorney general's office.

When a county personnel director noticed that her license was fraudulent, Rinehart - who had worked for the Department of Social Services since 1994 - was fired in August last year.

John-John Williams

Harford County

: BRAC

Army confirms N.J. base closing

The Army has confirmed its commitment to close Fort Monmouth in New Jersey and relocate civilian defense workers to the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Democratic members of Maryland's congressional delegation announced yesterday.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and Rep. C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, in a joint news release, said an Army official assured staffers for the Democratic delegation that the service is committed to carrying out the 2005 law requiring closure of Monmouth as part of a nationwide closure and realignment of military bases.

"The Army is committed to executing the closure of Fort Monmouth in accordance with BRAC 2005 law and ensuring we are doing all possible to support the Global War on Terrorism and other critical contingency operations," said Kathryn A. Condon, executive deputy to the commanding general, U.S. Army Material Command, in the release.

Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, would move about 5,000 civilian defense workers from Monmouth to Aberdeen. The plan was ordered in 2005 as part of a nationwide shuffle of military bases. BRAC is expected to bring Maryland as many as 60,000 jobs and 28,000 new households.

John-John Williams IV

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