The Driver’s Seat Gets Clean Bill of Health: Hepatitis A Non-existent

After much ballyhoo and damaging reports that patrons of The Driver’s Seat restaurant in Southampton (66 Jobs Lane) had been exposed to Hepatitis A, it turns out that no evidence of the illness was found in the restaurant, its staff or its patrons.

The initial scare made headlines just in time for the Hamptons’ busy Labor Day Weekend, after management at The Driver’s Seat learned one of its former employees had been treated for Hepatitis A in a New York hospital. Hired by the restaurant on August 6, 2013 to help with the summer crowds, the waiter—who never handled food because runners serve the tables—lasted just 20 days before being let go on August 26. After his dismissal, he went to stay with family in New York City, where he became ill and was hospitalized.

The New York hospital promptly notified several Health Departments. The Suffolk County Health Commission caught word and went to work containing any possible outbreak.

Southampton Hospital responded immediately and set up a special room for The Driver’s Seat staff and patrons to be inoculated as a preventative measure. The Health Department then visited and reported that the restaurant was spotless and there was no evidence of illness among the staff. They returned for subsequent visits, and just recently issued a report certifying that disease was not present at The Driver’s Seat.

Southampton Hospital President & CEO Robert Chaloner’s office confirmed that they had inoculated all the staff and several patrons but also stated that they had not treated anyone for actually carrying Hepatitis A. Further, he reported that no person had been admitted or been treated for Hepatitis A at the facility.

Throughout the widely reported Hepatitis scare, The Driver’s Seat and its staff saw a drop in patronage, despite no evidence that anyone was exposed to the disease, but many loyal customers continued to eat there regularly.

Grace Kelly-McGovern of the Suffolk County Health Commission was distressed when she learned the consequences for the many employees and the restaurant itself and immediately provided a copy of the inspection notice to be distributed to all.

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