By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN -- The township branch of Physicians Dialysis Center where five patients fell ill last week is sending patients to other area centers but plans to reopen Friday.
Of the five people hospitalized last week, two have been discharged.
Terry Proveaux, a spokeswoman for the Nashville corporate office, said a panel of experts, including doctors, nurses and clinical and technical personnel, met Monday with officials from the Mahoning County and Ohio Departments of Health.
"They reviewed the incidents on a case-by-case basis," Proveaux said.
The bacterial infection is isolated to the five patients, she said. One of the five patients hospitalized didn't test positive for the bacterial infection found in the other four but still exhibited symptoms.
"We don't know the exact source of the bacterial infection, but we do know a few things," Proveaux said. "We know that it's not the water, it's not contagious and it's contained within these five patients."
Three of the patients being treated at the Boardman-Canfield Road center were hospitalized May 31, with the fourth and fifth admitted to the hospital Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
Proveaux said a surface contaminant has been identified as the problem and the facility has been thoroughly sterilized and disinfected to eliminate the contamination.
"All five patients' access for dialysis was a catheter," Proveaux said. "Catheters are notoriously prone to infection. They're very problematic."
Physicians Dialysis Center's companywide plan is to push for elimination of catheters in dialysis. Proveaux said the company is working to educate both patients and doctors and encourage them to opt for a method that delivers treatment under the skin so there's less exposure to contamination.
Other area Physicians Dialysis Centers where patients may be directed before Friday are on Belmont Avenue in Youngstown and on Millennium Drive and Elm Road, both in Warren.