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Senate to Hold Hearing on DHEC Tuberculosis Response

6:35 PM, Aug 6, 2013   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- State senators have some questions about the tuberculosis outbreak in the upstate.

The Senate Medical Affairs Chairman, Senator Harvey Peeler, has called a meeting for the committee to look into the state Department of Health and Environmental Control's reporting procedures and pending litigation surrounding the tuberculosis outbreak.

"Really what happened, and why did it happen, and were the right people in place to make the decisions? Why were some people terminated and why wasn't the public notified earlier?" said Richland County Senator Joel Lourie of things he would like to find out from DHEC.

He says the agency's response to a tuberculosis outbreak at a school in Greenwood is important.

"When you have people's lives, their health and well-being is affected as seriously as it was in Greenwood, there's a problem, and it's incumbent upon us as senators to get to the bottom of that problem," said Lourie.

He says he is aware of lawsuits related to the outbreak from terminated employees and families of people impacted by the disease.

"I kinda appears like decisions were made that could end up costing the taxpayers money in the long run," said Lourie.

Still, he hopes the committee hearing from DHEC Director Catherine Templeton will shed some light on what happened.

"You have an outbreak of tuberculosis, you have an epidemiologist position that's been vacant for a year, you have a disease control director job that's been vacant for a year. You have the highest levels right under Ms. Templeton that were pushing back, that were pushing back on communicating with the public and the school district. I think the public needs and deserves answers and that's what we hope will happen this Thursday," said Lourie.

The Senate's Medical Affairs committee will meet Thursday at 1 p.m.

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