Georgetown outbreak: Emergency so backed up there was ‘vomiting in the waiting room’

Molly Redden of the Georgetown Voice in Washington, D.C. does an excellent job going beyond the soundbites of talking health-heads to capture the impact of foodborne illness, in the case on a bunch of university students who dined at Leo O’Donovan Cafeteria or Leo’s.

At least 96 students were treated by the Georgetown University Hospital or the Student Health Center for gastroenteritis from Tuesday night and Wednesday. …

Neil McGroarty (NHS `12), arrived at the emergency room at around 10:30 p.m., only hours after eating a roast beef sandwich from Grab N’ Go. He said within hours of arriving at the Hospital, the emergency room was backed up to the point that students who weren’t receiving medical attention began vomiting in the waiting room.

“I know that some people in the waiting room had been there for three hours. There was a boy yelling ‘help me, help me!’ but there were no doctors,” Kathrin Verestoun (SFS `11), who accompanied her roommate to the emergency room, said. “They ran out of rooms and set up stretchers in the hall. Some people were so dehydrated that they couldn’t find their veins for IVs. They were just bleeding. [My roommate] bled all over her stretcher.” …

A Food Establishment Inspection Report obtained by the Voice through a Freedom of Information Act request reveals that in June, the D.C. Bureau of Community Hygiene determined that Leo’s’ handwashing facilities were not up to code, although this was “corrected on-site.” According to the report, sinks used for handwashing in the service area lacked handsoap. …

The actual number of students who have fallen ill may be far higher than reported. Interviews have revealed that many students who fell ill did not get medical help, like Katie O’Niell (COL `11), who began to vomit about three hours after eating a burrito at Leo’s.

“I didn’t feel like I could make it any further than from my bed to the bathroom,” she said.