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Martin woman home after meningitis scare

Martin woman home after meningitis scare
Ann Bequette of Martin is now back at home after being hospitalized for just over three weeks at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville undergoing treatments for fungal meningitis.
Bequette actually got home late last week, according to her daughter, DoRann Moore of Martin.
“She’s really glad to be back home. She’s in good spirits,” Moore said.
Bequette is the mother of Moore and Suzanne Killebrew, both of Martin.
She was first admitted to the Nashville hospital on Oct. 9 after testing positive for fungal meningitis. That diagnosis was made after Bequette had a spinal tap done earlier at the St. Thomas Outpatient Neurology Center in Nashville for problems she was having with her sciatic nerve.
Bequette’s white blood cell count spiked to 7,000 after her first spinal tap and then dropped to 1,350 following a second spinal tap. Her white blood cell count was down to 129 after a fourth spinal tap done about two weeks ago, according to Moore.
“Her doctors thought she looked great. Her liver count has improved,” Moore said.
Bequette is due to return to the St. Thomas Hospital next week for further tests.
The number of patients sickened in Tennessee by an outbreak of fungal meningitis has risen to 80, but the number of deaths in the state remained at 13, according to the Associated Press.
The Tennessee Health Department reported on its website on Thursday that the number of patients who have meningitis, abscesses or stroke associated with an epidural steroid injection has risen by one.
 The outbreak of the non-contagious fungal meningitis has sickened more than 400 people around the country and caused more than 30 deaths.
 The steroid injections were recalled by the Massachusetts-based New England Compounding Center, and its operations have been suspended. Federal and state investigators have found evidence of unsanitary conditions and practices at the company, and federal investigators are conducting a criminal investigation.
 U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has announced that he will participate in a U.S. Senate committee hearing today to examine state and federal oversight of the New England Compounding Center, the source of the contaminated steroid injections that have caused a meningitis outbreak nationwide and led to 13 deaths in Tennessee.
 “This hearing is an important step to learning as much as we can about this tragic outbreak so that we can ensure that it never happens again. Tennessee officials identified the outbreak and responded quickly to the cases in our state, and I’m asking for their insights to help legislators in our next steps.”
 In the new Congress, Alexander is likely to be ranking Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which is holding the hearing entitled “Pharmacy Compounding: Implications of the 2012 Meningitis Outbreak.”
 The senator has sent letters to the Tennessee Department of Health, the Tennessee Board of Pharmacy, the Tennessee Pharmacists Association, Tennessee Medical Association, the Tennessee Hospital Association and the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners, inviting them to submit testimony for the record on this issue.
 Alexander, along with a bipartisan group of senators serving on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, last month sent letters to the FDA, Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy, and NECC owners, seeking information related to the outbreak.
 He also joined Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., in sending a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg asking for clarity regarding existing laws governing oversight of compounding pharmacies like NECC and information about any inspections of NECC and actions taken since the FDA warned the center in December 2006. Published in The WCP 11.15.12