Thanks for help

Given all the attention recently in the media to the Douglas Hall outbreak of Norwalk virus, I believe it’s important to publicly acknowlege the many people who worked so hard to get this situation under control and behind us.

NIU is most fortunate to have the high quality food service operation that it does. It’s no accident that we’ve never had a documented case of food poisoning here.

Our sanitation standards exceed any requirements put forth by public health agencies. Recent articles reported how, for example, we employ a microbiologist on a regular basis to help maintain high sanitation levels and routinely keep food samples in all our units for 48 hours.

Our food service managers have a high level of training which includes course work in sanitation, food preparation and training. Many of our management staff are certified to teach courses in the food service area. Our employees in all our units are motivated, dedicated professionals who want to work in our kitchens to prepare and serve food to NIU students.

That is why it was so contrary to have this virus break out initally in an area where people work so hard at all times to maintain clean kitchens. It was unadvisable and unfair to point fingers at our employees when, in fact, it will never be known where or who exactly brought the virus to so many.

The important point is that the virus, once targeted, was shut down so quickly and thoroughly. This could have happened only because of a real team effort. I wish to recognize Area Coordinator Sheryl Mullis, who, with her staff, worked tirelessly to keep residents informed, always keeping her sense of humor.

I also wish to commend Office Manager Joyce Davis, who kept business going in the midst of chaos, Don Buckner, associate vice president of Student Affairs and Housing Director Carl Jardine, who fielded questions from parents, students and media keeping people calm and informed and Linda Tillis, assistant director of housing, who supported everyone with her on-site visits, keeping spirits up and people together.

Our food service professionals, like Director Ralph Chaplin, Personnel Officer Joyce Chaney, Unit Manager Charlotte Brewe, her management staff and all the truly fine Douglas Hall Food Service staff and student workers, kept going under trying times and maintained the level of personal commitment and excellence we expect from them.

The DeKalb County Public Health Department headed by Karen Grush proved to be a strong source of support to us. Karen and her team are responsible for leading us to the solution of this nightmare.

I thank them all for making my job so easy. It is not really as important to me to know who Norwalk Nora or Norm was as it is to know how well students and staff worked together to resolve this problem.

Finally, I want to thank the media, especially Stewart Warren and The Northern Star, for reporting the facts. This was a volatile situation that could have easily been reported in such a way to cause panic. For once we all worked together. Let’s not forget we can.

Patricia Hewitt

Associate Vice President

Business and Operations