Students Protect against Lice Outbreak

Fear not. The lice outbreak that had many students in a near-panic was successfully stopped by the separation of students during Thanksgiving break. The break offered any infected students the opportunity to go home and treat themselves. Karen Mumbert,  Assistant Director of Health Services, says that she is “impressed by the willing students” who were “very diligent” when it came to treating their lice.

But what should you do in the event of another outbreak? Lice cannot fly or jump, which is why outbreaks are only seen where there is “close living,” according to Mumbert. This mean that to protect yourself, you should vacuum any floors or couches that infected people have used, refrain from sharing hats, combs, or brushes, or any of the other numerous suggestions offered at the Health Center or on the Center for Disease Control’s website.

Or, you can use the following suggestions offered by your fellow students, all of which have been proven to work.

  1. Be aware of your surroundings. “A kid at fencing had it,” said sophomore Heidi Ewing. “I didn’t go to fencing at all that week”
  2. Be careful of the people with whom you associate. “We just stayed away from dirty people,” said sophomore Amelia Lynch. Her roommate, sophomore Megan Tawes, added, “We checked each other’s heads a lot.”
  3. Do not allow any of your things to touch those of an infected person. Freshman Sara Manchester’s roommate had lice, so she said, “I sprayed down the room, went to the health center, and made sure nothing of mine in the room touched hers.”
  4. Follow the example set by your Residence Assistants. “I saw some of the PG RA’s wearing swim caps and gloves during checkout,” said sophomore Brian Van Parys.
  5. Do not necessarily rely on the help of your parents. On returning home, sophomore Anna Kasicky told her mother that there had been an outbreak of lice and “she freaked out. She checked my head three times and put my clothes in a bag. My mother wouldn’t let me wash my clothes in the house. She told me I had to use the laundromat in the city!”
  6. Drastic times call for drastic measures. When four of the six people in his suite contracted lice, sophomore Danny Patrick Thomas Ruthenburg-Marshall took a few extra steps to prevent himself from becoming infected. “Sheets were down to one use, towels were down to one use. I washed everything I ever touched. I sprayed de-lousing stuff. I treated my hair anyway. I trimmed my torso hair!” The result? “No lice,” he said.

The College did all it could to prevent the lice from spreading. The Health Center worked with Housekeeping through Residence Life in an effort to be sure that all shared living areas were sufficiently clean, says Mumbert.

According to Mumbert, because lice seem to spread more between friendship and relationships than actual geography, the Health Center has no way of knowing where the outbreak originated on campus.

Chesapeake Shores Nursing Home Gets a Visit from St. Mary’s Students

Caitlin Evans and Kat Painter of For Goodness Sake pose with James Holt, one of the residents of the Chesapeake Shores nursing home (Photo By Michelle Ladas).
Caitlin Evans and Kat Painter of For Goodness Sake pose with James Holt, one of the residents of the Chesapeake Shores nursing home (Photo By Michelle Ladas).

Once a week, Senior Caitlin Evans picks up a group of students from DPC at 5:50. The students hop into her blue jeep and head down Route 5 to the Chesapeake Shores Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center.  Caitlin, a member of For Goodness Sake, the umbrella club that sponsors the trip, is the project leader of the trips and has been since she was a sophomore. Last week, Jeff Meisgeier, Kat Painter, and I joined  Caitlin as she drove to Chesapeake Shores.

Every Thursday residents are brought into the game room where they often play Keno Bingo with St. Mary’s students. Last week, several residents were dispersed throughout the room, participating in different activities. Jeff noticed a woman sitting by herself with a Scrabble board and went to join her.  Caitlin and Kat were asked to decorate a cart by Agnes Price, the woman who directs the night’s activities. Agnes Price has been working at Chesapeake Shores for twenty-two years.

I went to join Jeff at the Scrabble table, where I met Elaine. “She tells great stories,” called  Caitlin from across the room. Unfortunately, the soft spoken woman was not in the mood to tell stories that night. She was too preoccupied with easily winning Scrabble.

Elaine did reveal the fact that she was born in Kenya, where she lived for seventeen years before moving to England.  Caitlin later told me that Elaine had previously been in an abusive relationship. She still wears the scars on her forehead.

At one point in the night,  Caitlin and Kat are joined by James Holt. James is the only one  Caitlin has continuously seen since she began volunteering at Chesapeake Shores three years ago. “He’s a flirt,”  Caitlin warns me as I approach.

Sixty-five year old James Holt enjoys having the college students visit him. “We need more girls like y’all to come here,” he tells me. Holt is a big fan of Maryland sports teams, having lived in Maryland his whole life. In fact, he lived right around the college. After being introduced to James, he points at Kat and informs me: “that’s my doll baby.”

“Everyone is his doll baby,” calls Vickie Ryce from another table.

Vickie Ryce is a “resident and volunteer” at Chesapeake Shores. She was sitting at a table with two other residents, calling cards for a game called Poker-Keno. “I try to be a leader, to help everyone as I can,” she says. Apparently, she does this very well. The woman sitting on her right won Poker-Keno three games in a row. “I’m helping Rose win,” Vickie tells me.

Vickie enjoys seeing the St. Mary’s students every week as much the rest of the residents seem to. “It gives the residents something to look forward for on Thursday nights,” she says.

An hour passes quickly and the residents begin to head back to their rooms.  Caitlin, Kat and I escort James back to him room. “Brooom Brooom” says  Caitlin, echoed by James, as she weaves his wheelchair through the hallway. When we get to James’ room he shows us some of his pictures. First is one of himself at twenty-seven. The next is his wife, Florence, who comes to visit him every week.

“I wish I could walk you home” says James as we leave.

Caitlin and her volunteers will not be back to Chesapeake Shores until December. Cait hopes to have The Nightingale A Cappella perform for the residents on December 7th. She encourages anyone who has a free hour Thursday night to join her next trip. “It keeps things fun and interesting (for the residents),” she says. Any student who would like go to Chesapeake Shores can meet at DPC at 5:50. Just look for a blue Jeep.