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Memorial to open center for treatment of Hepatitis C

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Thu, Feb 14th 2019 12:25 pm

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center announced board-certified infectious disease specialist Dr. Rajinder Bajwa will provide specialized care for hepatitis C infected patients at the Niagara Wellness Connection Center.

In addition to offering screening and treatment for the disease, the new center will serve as an educational resource about the hep C virus and its effects.

Hepatitis C is transmitted through contact with the blood of a person who has the virus. It can cause serious liver damage and lead to cirrhosis and liver failure. Due to its slow progression and rarely shown symptoms, it is estimated 3.5 million U.S. residents with the disease are undiagnosed.

“Most people are unaware that they may be infected with hepatitis C,” said Memorial President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo. “Between 2011 and 2015 reported cases of hepatitis C in New York state nearly tripled. Lifelong infections of hepatitis C serve as major risks for liver cancer, making early detection and treatment ever so important. The Niagara Region is fortunate to have this specialty center under the medical care of Dr. Bajwa.”

Bajwa said, “There are many risk factors of acquiring hepatitis C. I will highlight two important ones: Anyone born between 1945 and 1965 and current or former injection drug users should be screened for hepatitis C, even if they do not show symptoms.

“Our goal is to see anyone interested in getting tested and treated within one week of them calling for an appointment.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends testing for anyone who is currently injecting drugs or ever injected drugs, including those who injected once or a few times many years ago; was ever on long-term hemodialysis; has tested positive for HIV, received blood from a donor who later tested positive for hepatitis C; or who received a transfusion of blood, blood components or an organ transplant before July 1992.

The Niagara Wellness Connection Center is on Memorial’s sixth floor. Walk-ins for a hepatitis C consultation are welcome on most Wednesdays between 8:30-11:30 a.m., although appointments are recommended. To schedule an appointment, call 716-278-4820.

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