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Quality Inn cited for health concerns

FD hotel failed pool cleanliness 6 times since Dec.

August 14, 2008
By DON COGGER, Messenger staff writer

The Webster County Board of Health met Wednesday evening to discuss, among other items on their quarterly agenda, a local hotel that may not be adhering to regulations regarding swimming pool safety.

According to Webster County Sanitarian Gary Boerner, management of Quality Inn, at 2001 Highway 169 in Fort Dodge, has failed to close their indoor pool and spa, despite failing numerous tests to determine its cleanliness. Boerner said that he has visited the establishment on at least six different occasions since December. The most recent visit was Wednesday.

''When this really became an issue was when the softball tournament was in town,'' Boerner told the board. ''I went out to Quality Inn to make sure they were cooperating correctly. I had the state inspector with me that day as well. We walked in there, there were the young kids swimming in the pool, I took a test and discovered that there was absolutely no chlorine in either the pool or the spa.''

After explaining the situation to management and telling them to close the pool, Boerner made two signs declaring the pool closed by order of the Webster County Public Health sanitarian. He then placed one sign at the front of the hotel and one at the entrance into the pool.

A visit the next day found the signs taken down and the pool open for business.

''I told the manager that he needed to shut the pool down because he wasn't running it correctly, and he needed a certified pool operator to be able to open it again,'' Boerner said. ''I came back to my office, wrote the manager a letter and I wrote the corporation (Ocean Hospitality) explaining the situation. I went to the pool yesterday and found it locked. I went back today, the door was open, and I ran another test. Once again, there was no chlorine in the pool or spa.''

Board of Health Chairman Steve Beeghley said he was mortified at Quality Inn's lack of concern for the welfare of its guests.

''The solution to this problem is very simple,'' Beeghley said. ''Management is choosing not to do it. That is unacceptable.''

The manager for Quality Inn was unavailable for comment Wednesday evening.

The absence of chlorine in a swimming pool can lead to a number of different infections as the water becomes contaminated over time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. If proper chlorine and pH levels are not maintained, germs such as cryptosporidium, or crypto for short, can become abundant. Crypto, which causes diarreah, is now recognized as one of the most common causes of waterborne illness in the United States.

The board will now take the case to the county attorney in an effort to rectify the situation, as the Department of Health doesn't have the authority for further action on its own. Protocol needs to be followed, and taking it to the attorney's office is the next step.

''The pool needs to be closed up and taken a look at,'' Boerner said. ''People need to be aware that this is a public health risk.''

Other items on the agenda included a proposed 3 percent raise for two nurses employed by the Department of Health that passed unanimously, the hiring of a new financial coordinator and the naming of the new director of the Department of Public Health. Kari Prescott will take over for Vicki Gill in that position on Sep. 1.

Contact Don Cogger at (515) 573-2141 or



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