Nearly two dozen sickened at Vancouver retirement center

Gastrointestinitis outbreak hospitalizes two

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor

Published:

 

An outbreak of gastrointestinitis has sickened at least 20 people at Van Mall Retirement center, 7808 N.E. 51st St.

Bill Hess, general manager of the center, on Sunday night said 10 residents were sickened, two of whom are in the hospital. Also, he said 10 to 12 employees were sickened.

Hess said there have been no new cases in the past two days and that his staff has implemented all recommendations of the Clark County Health Department.

"The facility is doing everything we've asked them to do," said Dr. Alan Melnick, county health officer.

He said those recommendations included having no group dining and no group activities, to aggressively clean with bleach, and to admit no new residents.

"We do an hourly bleaching of all common areas," Hess said.

Melnick said on Friday he learned at least seven were sick.

"This is very contagious," Melnick said of the malady. However, he said most who get the illness are only sick for a day or two.

"This happens in long-term care facilities every year. … Van Mall isn't any different that anybody else, and they are following all our recommendations," he added.

"This is something none of us can avoid, as much as we try," Hess said. "We usually dodge it, but this year we've got it. … This is really a fairly light outbreak." He said residents are being served meals in their rooms.

"Most of them (employees) are back to work and a couple of them will be coming back Tuesday evening. Definitely we're on the mend," Hess said.

Hess said he was staying at the center during the outbreak. He said the center has 205 residents.

Melnick said the illness is similar to those that attack passengers on cruise ships. He said it can spread by stool or vomit.

He added that dehydration in older people can lead to hospitalization.