Alaska News

Suspected foodborne illness sickens nearly 80 employees at Homer hospital

State epidemiologists are investigating the source of a suspected foodborne illness outbreak that sickened dozens of hospital employees in the Kenai Peninsula community of Homer on Friday.

Almost 80 employees at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer were sickened with a gastrointestinal illness by Saturday morning, said hospital information officer Derotha Ferraro.

Everyone who got sick had eaten food brought in as employee meals from a variety of local food establishments, health officials wrote.

The main symptoms reported included diarrhea and stomach cramps. Most of the people who reported symptoms started feeling sick on Thursday night into Friday morning, according to the Department of Health and Social Services.

The hospital has an internal policy that staff with any sort of symptoms consistent with those of COVID-19 may not work and must get a test, Ferraro said. That prompted a slight backlog as many employees called in with symptoms Friday.

That’s when hospital reached out to state epidemiologists, she said.

“And they were able to assess the situation and advise us that this did not appear to be COVID related,” said Ferraro, who also got sick. “And that we were able to go ahead and clear these employees to go ahead and go back to work. "


Only a handful of employees ended up missing a full day of work Friday.

No hospital patients consumed the food, health officials said.

“We, (hospital employees), all had lunch from food that was brought in from local restaurants,” Ferraro said.

The source of the outbreak was still unknown as of Saturday, and officials were still investigating.

Officials are asking anyone who experienced symptoms to fill out this survey.

Morgan Krakow

Morgan Krakow covers education and general assignments for the Anchorage Daily News. Before joining the ADN, she interned for The Washington Post. Contact her at