February 14, 2016
Update 12:15 p.m. Sunday
The following information was sent to all members of the campus community:
Dear Ursinus Community,
As many of you make your way back to campus today, we wanted to provide an update on some recent developments in anticipation of classes resuming Monday morning.
Reports of the illness have decreased significantly. There have been fewer than 10 reports over the weekend, and most students who became ill have continued to let us know that symptoms ran their course within 12-24 hours. You should know that all public spaces and common areas on our campus have been cleaned, sanitized and disinfected, and hand sanitizer dispensers will continue to be installed at high traffic areas and building entrances over the next week.
Ursinus has been working very closely with the Montgomery County Department of Health since Wednesday morning. The department issued its second Inspection Report for Food Establishments yesterday morning, revealing that Ursinus College and its Wismer Hall dining facilities are in full compliance with (and had met) the department’s recommendations. We voluntarily closed Wismer Hall on Wednesday before re-opening on Thursday for dinner, and since then have continued to serve students for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We understand this has been a difficult time for our students and their families, and we are committed to making students aware of all the medical care resources they have at their disposal. During this time of uncertainty, we encourage all faculty, staff and students to be as proactive as possible in caring for their well-being.
To that end, Jefferson University Hospital is offering all Ursinus students free video visits with Jefferson doctors through Feb. 29, 2016. Please see yesterday’s email announcement for more details. In addition to this new offering, we continue to make our Wellness Center available for all students, and we encourage our students to be active partners by maintaining cleanliness in their rooms while continuing to practice good hygiene.
Looking forward to tomorrow: Most events this week will be held as scheduled, but check the Ursinus website for updated information. This is particularly true for athletics, as games and meets may have been rescheduled, and note that the popular Job, Internship and Networking Fair has been postponed until March 2.
We want to thank everyone for their support and we hope the long weekend away from Collegeville, for those who chose to leave campus, provided some well-deserved rest. Should you have any concerns prior to your return today, please do not hesitate to call our Campus Safety Office at (610) 409-3333.
We look forward to your arrival back on campus!
Update 2:20 p.m. Saturday
The following information went to all students:
During this time, Ursinus College wants to make sure that all students have as many medical care resources as possible at your fingertips. We encourage you to be as proactive as possible in caring for your well-being.
To that end, Jefferson University Hospital is offering all Ursinus students free video visits with Jefferson doctors through Feb. 29, 2016. This is a relatively new offering from Jeffersonthrough which you don’t necessarily have to leave your dorm to get care if you feel sick—think FaceTime or Skype, just with an emergency physician.
For students who take advantage of this resource, we ask that you continue to keep Campus Safety and/or the Wellness Center apprised of any symptoms you might have so that we may continue compiling important campuswide data.
Students should check their email for an app and a passcode for this service.
According to Jefferson University, this offering, called JeffConnect On-Demand Virtual Care, should allow students to have an urgent care video visit with a Jefferson emergency physician anytime, 24/7, using a mobile device or a computer with a webcam. Common conditions treated by JeffConnect physicians include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, flu-like symptoms, coughs, colds, sinus infections, injuries like sprains and strains, stomach aches and UTIs. If you don’t feel well and believe you have similar symptoms to those reporting on campus this week, and want to know if you need to seek care now or can wait a couple days, students are asked to please consider this service at your disposal.
We hope you stay healthy, but ask you keep JeffConnect in mind as just one additional resource available to you if you end up needing care. Again, in order for us to keep the Montgomery County Department of Health updated on the number of students who are ill, please continue to also contact Campus Safety at 610-409-3333 to report your symptoms.
Update 11:20 a.m. Saturday
A new health department inspection report was posted Saturday morning, Feb. 13. Information updated as of 11:20 a.m Saturday.
On Thursday, February 11, two inspectors with the Montgomery County Health Department conducted a comprehensive review of the Wismer Dining Facility. That report—the latest conducted by the health deparment—has just been posted this morning, Saturday, February 13. The health department has confirmed again this morning that Ursinus is in full compliance with the department’s recommendations.
An initial health department inspection report dated Wednesday, February 10, listed observations and corrective actions that were recommended by the department for Wismer Dining Hall on Ursinus College’s campus. Ursinus, in partnership with its food services provider, Sodexo, took these recommended actions seriously. Once we received the report, we volunteered to close Wismer Dining Hall on Wednesday prior to dinner that evening and immediately began to clean, sanitize and disinfect the facility, working in an expeditious and deliberate manner to apply the corrective actions listed on the report.
It is important to note the Montgomery County Health Department continues to investigate the source of the illness experienced on our Collegeville campus this week, and we cannot confirm it is food-borne nor that Wismer Dining Hall was its source of origination.
The on-going well-being of our students continues to be our top priority, and we are continuing to work closely with the Montgomery County Health Department to ensure that our dining hall meets or exceeds those actions recommended by the health department.
Update 11:30 a.m. Friday
As of Friday morning at 9:45 a.m., 7 new students reported symptoms of stomach infection overnight. No one was taken to the emergency room.
Since Tuesday afternoon, a total of 192 students have reported symptoms related to stomach illness to the college’s Wellness Center or Campus Safety Office. Many of these students have reported that they are feeling substantially better. Only a handful of faculty and staff have reported symptoms.
Symptoms of the illness appear to abate after 12-24 hours. The college continues to collaborate with the Montgomery County Health Department to identify the illness and determine the cause. MCHD says testing results could take up to a week.
Out of an abundance of caution, the college cancelled classes Thursday afternoon and Friday. Cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting continues throughout the weekend in preparation for classes to resume Monday.
The college continues to follow and review CDC prevention guidelines for guidance on next steps. In addition to using county health-department approved cleaning supplies, free-standing hand sanitizer stations are being installed at the entrance to all academic and public buildings.
The college’s dining hall, Wismer Hall, is now open for normal hours. Two county health inspectors reviewed the facility and gave it a “clean bill of health.”
Classes resume on Monday morning. All events through the weekend are cancelled. The alumni recommitment ceremony scheduled for Saturday has been postponed.
The college continues to be thankful for community neighbors in providing support over the past two days. Redner’s Warehouse Markets donated goods, and many other local restaurants provided support and goods in partnership with Ursinus.
Ursinus continues to follow the recommendations of the Montgomery County Health Department as we work together to identify the illness and determine the cause.
We would like to acknowledge the local businesses that helped us provide food to our students while our dining hall was voluntarily closed. We are grateful for your support.
Collegeville Italian Bakery
Franco’s Pizza Family Restaurant
The Pizza Stop
Redner’s Warehouse Markets
Update 4:30 p.m. Thursday
The Montgomery County Health Department has completed their inspection of the Wismer dining facilities and given us approval to open. Wismer Dining Hall will serve dinner Thursday evening from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. The dining hall opens for regular hours on Friday at 7:30 a.m., and the C store will open at 11 a.m. Lower Wismer remains closed Thursday and Friday.
Update 2:15 p.m. Thursday
Out of an abundance of caution, all classes will be canceled for the remainder of Thursday and for Friday. Students should feel free to leave campus, but the college will remain open and provide essential services. Registered social events and other activities are also being canceled for this weekend. The regular class schedule will resume on Monday.
The gymnastics team’s meet at Towson, as well as the men’s lacrosse scrimmages against Cabrini and Chestnut Hill – all of which were scheduled for Friday – have been canceled. Additionally, the softball team will no longer be holding its skills clinic, originally scheduled for Sunday. Further updates will be posted on the athletics site.
Information about alternate dinner options will be communicated later this afternoon. The total number of students who have exhibited symptoms is now at 185, although the majority are already recovering. The Wellness Center remains open and can be reached at x3100.
Update Noon Thursday
As a reminder, lunch is currently being served in the Floy Lewis Bakes Center lobby until 1:30 p.m. Food is being provided by Wawa and Collegeville Italian Bakery. Alternate dinner options are being arranged and will be communicated this afternoon.
The total number of students who have exhibited symptoms is now at 174, although the majority are already recovering. The Wellness Center remains open and can be reached at x3100.
We understand this is a difficult time. We are continuing to evaluate the situation, following the recommendations from the Montgomery County Health Department.
We will share any additional updates as soon as information becomes available.
Update Thursday 7:30 a.m.
Ursinus College continues to take proactive measures in conjunction with health officials and the community to stem a stomach illness outbreak that has affected 100 students. The college has voluntarily shut down its dining halls to allow the Montgomery County Health Department to determine the cause of the outbreak and allow for a complete cleaning and sanitization. Community restaurants and local businesses are partnering with the College in a tremendous rally of support.
“Ursinus’ first priority is the health and well-being of our students,” said President Brock Blomberg. “We will continue to work closely with officials from the Department of Health and follow their recommendations. In addition, Ursinus couldn’t be more grateful for the outpouring of support it has received from the surrounding community to help us support our students.”
Blomberg noted the support from restaurants and local businesses has been particularly appreciated by the school’s faculty, staff and students.
Beginning at 7:30 a.m. Thursday in the lobby of the Floy Lewis Bakes Athletics Center, Ursinus will partner with Wawa and Wegman’s to offer students a ‘grab-and-go’ breakfast that will be served by faculty, staff and volunteers. Lunch will begin at 11:30 in the same location, when Ursinus, Wawa and the Collegeville Italian Bakery will be on hand to support the students.
That follows an evening in which five area restaurants welcomed Ursinus students for dinner: the Collegeville Italian Bakery, The Pizza Stop, Rocco’s, Franco’s Pizza Family Restaurant and Marzella’s Pizzeria.
Updates about the illness will continue to be shared here and on Twitter. The college has been working closely with Montgomery County Health Department as they gather information regarding the illness that has impacted 100 students. The department has said it may be a few days before it can officially determine the cause of the outbreak. In the meantime, students who fall ill are urged to contact the college’s Campus Safety Office at (610) 409-3333.
The college is open and classes will be held Thursday, February 11.
Update Wednesday 9:30 p.m.
The following update was sent to the campus community:
Classes will be held tomorrow, Thursday, February 11, though Wismer will continue to be closed for cleaning. Because Wismer remains closed, the college will provide breakfast for all students in the Floy Lewis Bakes main lobby, next to the fitness center, from 7:30-9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. Our friends at Wawa and Wegmans have graciously partnered with the college to offer you a grab-and-go breakfast. Lunch will also be made available tomorrow from 11:30-1:30 in the same location.
These meals are being provided in lieu of the $10 allowance that all students received this evening.
As a precautionary measure, the college also encourages you to be sure your clothes and accessories are handled and cleaned appropriately. These are important reminders:
- Wash your hands and use sanitizer after handling any soiled laundry
- Keep this laundry separated from other non-soiled laundry
- Use the hot water cycle ONLY
- Use bleach for whites and light colored clothing
- Use hot cycle for drying
Thank you for your cooperation, and please know we will continue to update you with information tomorrow via email, social media, and on our website. And as reminder: do not hesitate to contact Campus Safety at 610-409-3333 if you experience any additional symptoms related to the illness.
Update Wednesday 5 p.m.
MCHD has posted an update on the situation. They note that 100 students have become ill, with 22 of them seeking treatment at local hospitals and urgent care centers. The update says:
Ursinus College has been working closely with Montgomery County Health Department (MCHD) officials to investigate an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness on campus. The college has voluntarily closed the cafeteria and snack bar allowing MCHD officials to continue gathering information regarding the illness cluster.The request is prudent and precautionary until further information is gathered.
Read the full update on the MCHD website.
Update Wednesday 4:30 p.m.
As a precaution and consistent with MCHD recommendation, Ursinus dining facilities have been closed until further notice. Students have been provided with information about dinner alternatives by email. The college has made arrangements with some local restaurants to be charged for student meals.
The fitness center will be closed until 8 a.m. Thursday, and the men’s basketball game against F & M has been postponed.
Update Wednesday 3:30 p.m.
MCHD has been on campus investigating the outbreak of gastro-intestinal illness. The following is excerpted from their news release:
“I encourage any students or staff experiencing symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain to be particularly careful about dehydration and to seek medical care,” said Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, Interim Medical Director of the Montgomery County Health Department.
It is unknown at this time whether the illness is food-borne or transmitted by person-to-person contact.
MCHD is interviewing students and employees and looking at all possible sources of infection and looking for any commonalities.
Routinely, it is recommended to test for both bacteria and viruses when persons present with these symptoms. Testing results could take up to a week.
As of this afternoon, up to 96 students have shown symptoms of the illness. Ursinus is working closely with MCHD to determine the cause of the illness and to determine the appropriate next steps. Information will be sent to the campus community as soon as it is available.
On Tuesday evening a number of Ursinus students were taken ill with a stomach infection. Symptoms included prolonged vomiting, and a number of students went to the hospital or to urgent care centers for treatment. As of Wednesday morning, there have been reports of approximately 40 students who have become ill.
Working with the Montgomery County Health Department (MCHD), Ursinus is actively investigating the potential cause of this illness to determine whether it is food-borne or transmitted by person-to-person contact. As a precaution, food service in Lower Wismer will be closed until 2 p.m. Wednesday so that all areas can be thoroughly cleaned. The dining hall in Upper Wismer will be open for lunch with a limited menu, and will then close at 2 p.m. for cleaning.
Our Wellness Center staff is working closely with doctors at Einstein Medical Center who have been treating students. It appears that symptoms abate after 12 to 18 hours.
Updated information will be posted here as it becomes available.