Infection scare at Channel 31

Yesterday, we told you about furloughs at affiliated stations Channel 31 and The Deuce, which began kicking in right about the time general manager Dennis Leonard and two fellow execs took more than thirty clients on a week-long Caribbean cruise. (Leonard, by the way, says the August junket had been planned since last year, and actually generated more than five times its cost in ad revenue.) During the conversation, however, he also confirmed that earlier this summer, the station's headquarters, at 100 East Speer Boulevard, was the site of a frightening infection that required high-tech scouring before the area in question was deemed safe for employees.

The infection in question is known as MRSA. Here's how it's defined by the Mayo Clinic:

MRSA infection is caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria -- often called "staph." MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It's a strain of staph that's resistant to the broad-spectrum antibiotics commonly used to treat it. MRSA can be fatal.

According to Leonard, "We had one individual test positive for MRSA. As soon as we discovered this, we alerted the staff and had a biological cleaning crew come in to immediately address the work area this person was involved in."

But that wasn't the end of the scare.

The employee in question subsequently came back to work, but he wasn't feeling well -- and when he returned to his physician for a checkup, he again tested positive for MRSA. Leonard says the station was ready to schedule the biological cleaning crew for another session, but before the swabbing began again, the employee was retested and the results proved that he'd registered a false positive the last time around. As a result, the crew didn't conduct another cleansing, and no additional outbreaks have taken place.

Leonard praises supervisors for acting quickly to make sure no one else became ill. After all, working in the television business these days is tough enough.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts