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Lourdes Opens New Hepatitis C Clinic

In an effort to provide care to the growing patient population and streamline services, Lourdes announces the opening of its new Hepatitis C Clinic, located on the first floor of Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden. The clinic offers comprehensive evaluation, diagnosis and treatment for patients with all phases of hepatitis C infection.

An estimated 5 million Americans are living with hepatitis C, a liver disease caused by a blood-borne virus, and most are unaware of their diagnosis, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The organization estimates that 75 percent of that 5 million are baby boomers, born between 1945 and 1965.

Hepatitis C patients can live for years without experiencing symptoms, so it’s often referred to as a “silent” killer. There is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C, however, treatments are now available that can help treat and potentially cure the disease.

“We are excited to open the Lourdes Hepatitis C Clinic and to help as many patients as possible receive care for what is now a ‘curable’ disease,” said Hisham ElGenaidi, MD, medical director of Hepatology, Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center. “Our message to patients and the community is that testing is crucial, because treatment is available and this often-fatal disease can be cured. To all baby boomers, and those at risk, please get screened. We want you to know we are here to help.”

 The new clinic offers a multidisciplinary model that cares for patients through a medical management treatment plan. In collaboration with an in-hospital pharmacy at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, each patient can choose to work with a pharmacist to attain his or her prescribed medication–to either to have it dispensed at the in-hospital pharmacy down the hall from the clinic or through another pharmacy of the patient’s choice, and to receive support for medication adherence, as well as help in identifying cost resources.

The many challenges patients may face include the fact that medication must be taken completely and exactly as directed for a viable cure, and that medication is not easy to access, is expensive, and must be pre-authorized for insurance compensation. Pharmacists say they look to support and educate patients as a vital part of the treatment process.

For each patient, pharmacy staff provide weekly medication treatment updates to Lourdes clinic staff so that communication continuously flows.

With Hepatitis C being a silent disease, Dr. ElGenaidi says 1 in 30 baby boomers will have the virus and not know it, but it’s about 1 in 10 for baby boomers for those who live in urban areas.

“Camden has a high Hepatitis C rate, and that makes Lourdes one of the busiest centers in the state. With the new Lourdes Hepatitis C Clinic, we are looking to help treat this growing population.”

Hepatitis C spreads through contact with the blood of an infected person. It can lead to liver cancer and liver failure. Hepatitis C the leading cause for liver transplant. You can get the virus if:

  • Your mother had it when you were born
  • You had a blood transfusion before 1992
  • You’ve shared razors, toothbrushes or injection drug needles with an infected person
  • You’ve had intercourse with an infected person
  • You got a tattoo or body piercing at an unlicensed facility

Dr. El Genaidi strongly urges all baby boomers, regardless of risk factors, to get tested for the Hepatitis C virus. He says those on dialysis should be tested yearly. “Identifying hidden infections will allow more people to receive treatment before they develop life-threatening liver disease. With testing, we can help save lives. Talk with your healthcare provider today.”

For more information or to make an appointment at the Lourdes Hepatitis C Clinic, call 856-796-9340.

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