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Posted on Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 2 p.m.

CBS' 60 Minutes to feature St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Sunday episode on fungal meningitis outbreak

By Amy Biolchini

St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Superior Township will be featured in an episode of CBS’ 60 Minutes this Sunday as a part of an investigative series into a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak.

Forty-eight deaths -- 13 of which are of Michigan residents and four of which are from Washtenaw County -- are linked to batches of injectable steroids contaminated with fungus from the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass.

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Scott Pelley of CBS' 60 Minutes interviews patients at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Superior Township for a segment on the fungal meningitis outbreak.

Courtesy of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor

The steroids were distributed across the country last summer. By that fall, hundreds of patients that had received injections of the steroid in their back and joints for pain relief were presenting with rare forms of meningitis.

In Michigan, four facilities received shipments of the steroids. As the outbreak has unfolded, Michigan has had the highest concentration of fungal meningitis patients in the country: 253 cases to date, out of a total of 720 reported in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The closest to the Ann Arbor area was Michigan Pain Specialists in Brighton.

St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor quickly became the epicenter for treating fungal meningitis patients in Michigan. Additional staff was called in from affiliated hospitals and a ward of patient rooms was opened to accommodate the constantly fluctuating patient population.

"There has been a great deal of media attention due to the large number of patients in Michigan who have been affected and the central role that St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor physicians, clinicians and staff have played in caring for this population. We are very proud of the response and commitment St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor has had to this community public health disaster and continue to treat these patients as they work to recover from this," said Michele Szczypka, regional chief marketing officer for Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, in a statement.

The 60 Minutes segment interviews patients and their families living with fungal meningitis that have been receiving treatment at the Ann Arbor hospital over a two-day period in February.

Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes also interviewed a former lab technician at the compounding company under fire in the outbreak who is speaking out for the first time.

“Lethal Medicine” will air 7 p.m. EST Sunday on CBS.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at (734) 623-2552, amybiolchini@annarbor.com or on Twitter.

Comments

talker

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 1:43 a.m.

A medical compound that wouldn't kill if swallowed, can kill if injected into the spinal column, where the effect of the substance is magnified.

BhavanaJagat

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 4:37 a.m.

Pain Management: I would like to know if there is any change in the therapeutic regime after this tragic experience. The role of steroids in pain management has to be explained and must be justified apart from blaming the pharmacy.

BIGDYPSI

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 7:13 a.m.

I am one of the infected patients, the use of steroid injections allowed me to live as close to normal daily routine as possible, the blame lies solely with the pharmacy in this case. If not for these injections I would be near wheelchair bound.

Focus Health

Sun, Mar 10, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

My cousin was one of the people who died as a result of this ordeal. She was a BEAUTIFUL person who never hurt anyone! She was taken to St. Mary's Hospital and they missed the diagnosis (supposedly because Gayle didn't show all of the signs.) HELLO! If you know she had received the shot and now was in unbearable pain, wouldn't you at least TEST for it??? Eventually, they transferred her to St. Joe's in Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti, but, it was too late to save her. Anyway, if she had been transferred to St. Joe's sooner, I believe, she might have had a fighting chance. Because of the missed diagnosis, the disease progressed to far... Very Sad SHAME!!! (And, Yes! I'm still very angry at the company that did this AND at the hospital that missed the diagnosis!)

Focus Health

Sun, Mar 10, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

By the way...by the time she came down with this, there was already many cases, many deaths. They should have at least suspected it. :o( (She didn't die until November.)

brian

Sun, Mar 10, 2013 : 3:28 a.m.

When things are going great it's St. Joseph in Ann Arbor, When things start going wrong it's St. Joseph in Ypsilanti. When things go really bad it's St. Joseph in Superior Township.

An Arborigine

Sun, Mar 10, 2013 : 3:10 a.m.

Will this be good publicity?