6,000 learn they may have disease

DENVER – Kimberly Spencer’s 9-year-old son went to Audubon Ambulatory Surgery Center last month for what was supposed to be a routine surgery. He’d stuck a BB in his ear, and doctors had to operate to remove it.

What happened next shocked the family. They were notified that their son is one of 6,000 patients who may have been exposed to hepatitis C by a painkiller-addicted technician who had the disease and allegedly passed on dirty syringes to patients.

The technician has been jailed, thousands of patients have been getting hepatitis C tests, and two medical facilities where she worked have been bombarded with questions about how they let it happen. Ten cases of hepatitis C have been linked to Rose Medical Center, where Kristen Diane Parker worked until April.

During a police interview videotaped June 30 that was played in court Thursday, Parker, 26, said she kept dirty saline-filled syringes in her pocket and watched for opportunities when doctors and nurses left the room. She then allegedly stole syringes filled with Fentanyl from operating carts and replaced them with the used syringes.

“I didn’t want to make it obvious to everyone that I was using,” she said. “I knew my limit.”

California may be near budget deal

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Against a backdrop of IOUs and expanding government furloughs, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders expressed optimism Saturday that they were moving toward a compromise that could end California’s fiscal calamity.

Negotiations to close the state’s $26.3 billion deficit restarted after two weeks of inaction and partisan bickering.

Top lawmakers from both parties said a budget-balancing deal was possible in the coming week.

“I would say we’re getting very close to a general framework, but there are still outlying questions,” said Assembly Minority Leader Sam Blakeslee, a San Luis Obispo Republican, after emerging from a closed-door meeting between lawmakers and Schwarzenegger.

They were expected to return to the Capitol today.

Palin urges change in ethics policy

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Gov. Sarah Palin says she hopes the latest ethics complaint filed against her is a “wake-up call” that Alaska needs a new ethics policy.

“The only saving grace in this recent episode is that it proves beyond any doubt the significance of the problem Alaska faces in the ‘new normal’ of political discourse,” Palin said in a release that was posted online.

“I hope this will be a wake-up call – to legislators, to commentators and to citizens generally – that we need a much more civil and respectful dialogue that focuses on the best interests of the state, rather than the petty resentments of a few,” Palin said.

The ethics complaint, filed Friday with the state personnel board, alleges that Palin has been paid for media interviews.

Palin’s chief of staff, Mike Nizich, called the allegation absurd.

Palin says her family has racked up more than $500,000 in legal fees and the state has poured about $2 million of taxpayer money into investigating the complaints.


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