U of M offering free blood tests to SHARE program participants after blood-screenings exposed some to risk of diseases


The University of Minnesota is searching for past and current residents of the Skyline Tower in St. Paul who could be at risk for infectious diseases after misuse of equipment at blood-sugar screenings.

University medical students and other volunteers have provided free blood-sugar testing to Skyline residents since 2010 through the Skyline Healthcare Awareness Resident Education program. Now, the University is putting a halt on the screenings and providing free blood tests for the residents after learning volunteers’ practices for conducting the tests could spread diseases.

No one had reported infections from the program as of Friday afternoon.

Student volunteers reused finger-prick devices while conducting the screenings, which has been associated with the spread of Hepatitis B and is in violation of Food and Drug Administration guidelines, the University reported Thursday.

University spokesman Brian Lucas said the volunteers did everything that they thought was right, but the devices were not designed for use on multiple people.

He said the volunteers swapped out the needles used on each patient and cleaned out the device with alcohol. But this practice still carries a small risk of blood getting inside the device and violates the Center for Disease Control’s protocols, Lucas said.

“We regret that this situation has occurred and we apologize to the Skyline community for the mistake,” SHARE program director Chris Bowron said in a press release Thursday.

Screening for HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C will take place at HealthPartners Center for International Health in St. Paul on June 7 and more testing dates may be added in the future.