HICKORY, NC – Nov. 11, 2013 – Catawba Valley Medical Center (CVMC) and the Office of the District Attorney for the 25th District—Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties—have announced an agreement allowing the hospital to begin handling blood-testing for DWI cases. The two organizations signed the contract in early November.
As a result of the agreement, blood will now be tested at Catawba Valley Medical Center for all alcohol-related DWI cases in the 25th District. Results that were formerly sent to the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) laboratory, and could take up to two years to be returned in some cases, will now be available to law enforcement, the district attorney’s office and the defendant within hours. In the event that expert testimony is required in court, analysts will travel from CVMC instead of Raleigh.
“This is an opportunity for Catawba Valley Medical Center and the district attorney’s office to work together for the public good,” said Tony Rose, president and CEO, Catawba Valley Medical Center. “We appreciate the chance to help localize testing and alleviate the pressures of the existing backlog.”
In its 2013-14 budget, the North Carolina General Assembly earmarked funding for grants to pay for private testing. District attorney’s offices throughout the state are now authorized to enter into a contract for testing with qualified local labs. The Office of the District Attorney for the 25th District is one of the first to take advantage of the new opportunity.
“The cooperative agreement between the District Attorney’s Office and Catawba Valley Medical Center to provide blood-testing services in DWI cases will change the way these cases move through our courts in Burke, Caldwell and Catawba County,” said James C. Gaither Jr., district attorney. “From the time I was elected in 2002, it has been my goal to keep our streets and highways safe by aggressively prosecuting those who drive while impaired, and our district enjoys an 85 percent conviction rate in these cases. During the past 10 years, one of the obstacles to efficient prosecution has been the backlog of blood samples waiting at the SBI Lab for testing. During that time period, the backlog in some cases has increased to two years while awaiting SBI Lab test results. In some of these cases, the arresting officer has been reassigned, moved away or even retired. With the relationship in place between the District Attorney’s Office and Catawba Valley Medical Center, blood test results will now be available in a fraction of the time it currently takes and will facilitate an even more aggressive and efficient collaborative enforcement and prosecution effort in these cases. I appreciate the opportunity to work with Catawba Valley Medical Center in this partnership to improve the efficiency of our courts and to insure that justice is not delayed.”
For more information, please contact the District Attorneys Office for the 25th District by calling 828/695-6111.
About the Office of the District Attorney for the 25th District
The District Attorney’s Office for the 25th Prosecutorial District in North Carolina is comprised of Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties. The 25th District is the largest multi-county district in the State of North Carolina and has offices located in Newton, Hickory, Lenoir and Morganton. The District Attorney’s Office for the 25th District has been recognized on a local, state and national level for effective prosecution and innovative programs. James C. Gaither Jr. has served as District Attorney since being elected in 2002. For more information on the District Attorney’s Office, please visit http://www.ncdistrictattorney.org/25/home.html.
About Catawba Valley Medical Center
Catawba Valley Medical Center in Hickory, N.C., is the region’s largest not-for-profit, public healthcare system and serves the community without direct funding from taxes. CVMC provides and promotes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of the public in addition to serving as a center for health education, wellness services, preventive medicine and acute care. CVMC has received three Magnet designations from the American Nurses Credentialing Center and has been recognized with three Women’s Choice Awards, being named one of America’s Best 100 Hospitals for Patient Experience in 2012 and 2013, a 2013 Best Hospital for Patient Experience in Obstetrics and one of America’s Best Hospitals in Orthopedics in 2013 by WomenCertified®. CVMC received the 2013 QUEST® Award for High-Value Healthcare from Premier, recognizing a reduction in harm, mortality, readmissions and costs, while improving the patient experience and delivering evidence-based care. For more information, please visit http://www.catawbavalleymedical.org.