By FRANK LEWIS
PDT Staff Writer
The Portsmouth City Health Department is concerned over a Ohio Department of Health proposal to eliminate the reporting of Hepatitis C cases. Scioto County leads the state in reported incidences of Hepatitis C.
The ODH says such a rule change is in the early draft stages and many steps have to be followed before the possibility of it becoming an actual change to the rules.
“We allow for 30 days for public comment,” Tess Pollock of the ODH said Thursday. “After that, after the comments, the draft is then pulled and they look at all comments to see if there are any comment themes. Maybe a lot of people are talking about Hepatitis C. Then, if so, they can revisit those rules, maybe rewrite them, maybe take that out, maybe change the language of it. Then, at that point it is submitted to the Ohio Health Council. And then they would have to approve any final rules.”
Bobbi Bratchett of the City Health Department says Hepatitis C is a reportable disease and remains so by the Centers for Disease Control. She said the ODH is going to have reporting statues for Hepatitis A, B, B-paranatal, D and E.
“Scioto County, Adams County, we’re all inundated with Hepatitis C, and we’ve proven it,” Bratchett said. “Our stats are staggering. That’s rural Appalachia. Even though Hepatitis is a slow-acting disease, usually when you have a big fall-out, there is usually funding or something for care. Well, there is no care. So what is their reasoning?”
Bratchett said the Health Department bases some of its funding on reporting cases of Hepatitis C.
“But if we can’t report it, what stats would I have?” Bratchett said. “We’ve proven that we have it. So what’s going on?”
Currently, the city gets free test kits from the state. “Now, if it’s non-reportable to the state of Ohio are they going to withdraw that funding for the free kits to us,” Bratchett said. “They’re not going to be getting anything from them. Therefore, people like us can’t test because we have no money for it.”
Bratchett said there are programs that are dependent on the ability to report statistics to state and federal authorities.