Guinan named acting Nevada state health officer

CARSON CITY " Dr. Mary Guinan, former Nevada state health officer, was appointed to her former position on an acting basis Thursday and will lead a team to investigate an outbreak of hepatitis C cases linked to a Las Vegas medical facility.

Gov. Jim Gibbons and Health and Human Services Director Mike Willden announced the appointment in a written statement.

Guinan served as the state health officer from 1998 to 2002. She's currently dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

A doctor and scientist, she also worked at the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in various scientific and administrative positions for over 20 years.

"As governor, I have asked Dr. Guinan to lead a team of medical and scientific experts to examine the circumstances surrounding the cluster of acute hepatitis C cases linked to an ambulatory care facility in Las Vegas and make recommendations on the changes needed to prevent future occurrences," Gibbons said.

Willden said Guinan's experience and professional expertise "will be an asset as we move forward to improve public health and patient safety for Nevadans."

Officials have said because of unsafe syringe use, six patients at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada were infected with hepatitis C. Another 40,000 people were sent notices urging them to be tested for hepatitis and HIV.

The facility is owned by Dr. Dipak Desai.

Besides the six cases linked to the Endoscopy Center, officials learned of a seventh case of the bloodborne liver disease involving a patient at the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center in Las Vegas in mid-2006. That center also is headed by Desai.

Guinan's appointment came a day after Gibbons named three southern Nevada doctors as temporary members of the state Board of Medical Examiners, which also is investigating the disease outbreak and medical practices at the clinic.

Drs. Ronald Kline, Beverly Neyland and Robert Wiencek got the temporary assignments after Gibbons decided on Friday to stop pressing for the permanent removal of Drs. Javaid Anwar, S. Daniel McBride and Sohail Anjum, who have ties to Desai.


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