Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) on Friday announced that Dr. Marion Kainer, director of the Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance Program for the Tennessee Department of Health, will testify at a Senate committee hearing next week on the nationwide meningitis outbreak that has led to 13 deaths in Tennessee.
“Dr. Kainer’s quick response to the earliest meningitis case in Tennessee helped quickly narrow the source of the fungal infections and limit the number of victims who received the contaminated steroid injections nationwide. Her testimony will be critical to our understanding of the outbreak, and to what improvements could be made to help state health departments responding to public health crises,” Senator Alexander said.
Dr. Kainer was invited to testify at the Nov. 15 hearing by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, at Senator Alexander’s request. Senator Alexander is likely to be ranking Republican on the committee in the new Congress.
Thursday’s hearing, entitled “Pharmacy Compounding: Implications of the 2012 Meningitis Outbreak,” will examine the meningitis outbreak, with a particular focus upon state and federal oversight of the New England Compounding Center (NECC), the source of the contaminated steroid injections that have caused a meningitis outbreak nationwide.
Dr. Kainer has been widely praised for how she responded to the outbreak’s first meningitis cases in Tennessee. Dr. Kainer, working with other employees at the Tennessee Department of Health, notified federal authorities within three days of the first case and were able to trace the source of the outbreak to medicine being dispensed at pain clinics.
Dr. Paul Jarris, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told the Tennessean
: “By the time we learned this was a problem around the country, the information from Tennessee had already narrowed it down to what the problem was.”
Dr. Jarris said that the Tennessee Department of Health’s response was “a textbook case of how to do it right.”