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St. Vincent's nurse blames local bakery for foodborne illness outbreak

St. Vincent's
Posted at 5:24 PM, May 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-15 11:53:44-04

Last week, nearly 80 St. Vincent's employees contracted a foodborne illness causing the hospital to shut down some of its offices and reschedule some patient visits.

One nurse, who asked MTN to not release her name to avoid any potential backlash, believes the incident began with a catered meal from Great Harvest Bread Company on Wednesday.

The meal was given to the employees as a part of Caregivers Appreciation Week, but the nurse said that employees were forced to call in sick in the days that follow.

"We had sandwiches and cookies brought in from Great Harvest, and the next day I came to work and they were cleaning everything and a bunch of people had called in sick," the nurse said. "It sucks. It's very frustrating."

She too came down with the illness, as did many of her coworkers, forcing the hospital to cancel and reschedule some appointments.

"We're already pretty booked with our schedules with our providers and we're having to find spots for all of these patients," the nurse said.

It also weighed heavily on those employees that stayed healthy.

"I have to miss a day of work and then that has to put my job on the other people's shoulders that are already busy with what they usually do during the day," the nurse said.

Great Harvest is closed on Sunday's and could not be reached for comment, however St. Vincent's did provide a statement confirming that the illness is believed to be from an outside source and that an investigation is taking place.

The statement said, "A gastrointestinal illness has impacted a number of our caregivers. As this time, we believe that illness is from an external source. We are partnering with RiverStone Health for the outbreak investigation."

The nurse said that the investigation has begun and that everyone who got sick was sent a survey that will help track down the cause.

"They sent us all a survey of what we ate, when we ate it, and what our symptoms were," the nurse said.

And she's hopeful that the investigation will provide some answers, but more so looking for accountability on behalf of whoever is at fault.

"'I don’t understand why Great Harvest can just come back and say ‘We’re really sorry this happened,'" the nurse said. "I don’t understand why this wasn’t made public. What if other people in the public had gone there and eaten sandwiches that day?”