By Aaron Sanborn
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June 17, 2012

Those diagnosed with hepatitis C as a result of the Exeter Hospital outbreak tied to the cardiac catheterization laboratory will get assistance from the hospital as they begin the process of assessing treatment options.

Dr. Thomas Sherman, a gastroenterologist with the hospital's affiliated Core Physicians, discussed the hospital's response plan with Seacoast Sunday. Sherman said he is leading a task force with the purpose of essentially creating an entire clinic at Core Physicians focused on the patients infected with the virus, which currently stands at 19, plus one hospital employee. He said all patients will be assigned a "patient navigator," an advocate who will walk them through the medical process, whether or not the patients get their care at Exeter Hospital.

"It's difficult enough to try to navigate the medical care system as a patient, but these patients need to be expedited through as many of the phases of the process as they can," Sherman said. "We don't want any road blocks."

Sherman said the hospital has working relationships with specialists across the region and will keep track of the patients regardless of where they get their care. He stressed that all patients will get their own patient navigator.

"The focus for all of our Core Physicians right now is on these patients and making sure they're taken care of, no matter where they go, no matter what they want to do. It doesn't matter if they're angry."

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