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TAHLEQUAH – Officials at the W.W. Hastings Indian Hospital in Tahlequah have confirmed that John Baker, son of Cherokee Chief Bill John Baker, is the nurse at the heart of a situation that left up to 186 patients potentially exposed to the HIV virus and Hepatitis C after the reuse of a syringe.

The Tahlequah Daily News reports the younger Baker waived his right to privacy under federal law and took the unprecedented step of coming forward to be identified. Hospital executives told the newspaper this week that the nurse used that same vial and syringe to inject more than one IV bag at the facility.

Baker resigned on May 1st, after the problem was discovered two days prior.

“When I understood that I may not have been following proper procedures, I immediately began working with health care professionals to identify any mistakes that may have been made and cooperated in every possible way and then I resigned,” Baker said in a statement. “I love caring for patients and would never knowingly put anyone at risk.”

Saying that no one was exempt from the rules, the Cherokee Nation says Chief Bill John Baker has recused himself from all inquiries regarding the problem.

Of the 186 patients contacted, the newspaper says 118 of them had returned to the facility as of Monday and had shown no signs of a problem.


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Grant Merrill is the Publisher of InsideFortSmith.Com, and owner of parent company Great Plains Digital Media. Prior to jumping into the digital world, he was a longtime sports talk show host on stations across Arkansas. E-Mail: grant@greatplainsdigital.com

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