Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Shigella Outbreak Not Helped By Carnegie Cafeteria Filth

There is an outbreak of Shigella, a rare food-borne bacteria, amongst people using Carnegie Center. Center staff are aware of this and have posters up in the washrooms and cafeteria reminding people who have diarreahea, stomach cramps, or fever to wash their hands thoroughly. The posters specifically mention diarreahea with blood in it -- that is a key sign of Shigella.

A Carnegie staff person has also given a handout on Shigella to members who are sick or know someone who is. It is mentioned on the handout that Shigella is highly contagious. It is so contagious in fact that it is recommended that people avoid sharing the same toilet with a person with diarreahea from Shigella.

But Carnegie is failing where it counts. Last evening, they didn't even have clean trays in the cafeteria. If a person needed a tray to carry their dinner and dessert and drink to their table, they had to use a tray that somebody else had eaten off of. When people put their food on a tray and walk to a table in the Carnegie cafeteria, they often leave it on the tray as they eat, as it is common for the tables to have remnants of other people's food on them.

One individual who was diagnosed with Shigella last month, after eating regularly at Carnegie Center -- although this person cannot be certain they got it at Carnegie -- was shocked to learn that people are being expected to use other people's dirty food trays. "I was really sick for two weeks but it's been five weeks now and I'm still not totally over it," this person says. "They need to clean that cafeteria up." Carnegie just got an expensive new dishwasher, another concerned member pointed out.

At least one staff person does make an effort to keep the cafeteria tables clean. Members report seeing Jacquie wiping down tables, but many of her fellow CUPE members seem reluctant to do this job, claiming that it should be done by "volunteers".

A Carnegie member reported seeing a food server wearing rubber gloves, and operating the cash register as well, pick up a piece of food and put it in her mouth with her fingers. Then a customer ordered a piece of banana bread and she picked it up with the same hand that had just been in her mouth. Generally, cake at Carnegie is wrapped in cellophane but on this occasion the member says, the server "reached into a bag to get it." The member knows this food server -- who "volunteers" and is paid in food vouchers -- and says she is a drug abuser.

Public Health officials are tracking Shigella in the Vancouver. Time for them to swoop down on the Carnegie Center cafeteria and enforce stricter health standards.

The problem of the Carnegie cafeteria being unclean is an ongoing one under the administration of Director Ethel Whitty. The Downtown Eastside Enquirer has mentioned this and other inadequate provision of services previously, and drew the ire of Whitty who at one point was involved in a "witch hunt" at Carnegie to find tattle-tale bloggers.