Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Presby Icu Remains Closed Due to Mold

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Presby Icu Remains Closed Due to Mold

Article excerpt

There are no plans yet to reopen the cardiothoracic intensive care unit at UPMC Presbyterian after mold was found there two weeks ago.

No surgeries have been canceled at the Oakland hospital and the cleanup continues, UPMC spokeswoman Wendy Zellner said Monday. She confirmed that on Sept. 3, a critical care medicine doctor discovered a male transplant patient had mold in an external wound.

Sharing a report from Holly Lorenz, chief nursing officer for UPMC, Ms. Zellner said the next day three patients whose beds were near the first patient were moved. After opening up a wall nearby, mold was found and further investigation found mold in other areas.

The entire 20-bed unit was closed Sept. 8, with a total of 18 patients moved to other parts of the hospital to get the intensive care they needed, Ms. Zellner said. The first patient was the only one with a confirmed association with the mold, she said.

Cardiothoracic care patients are usually affected by heart and lung disease, undergoing procedures such as transplants and open- heart bypass surgery. Because of a weakened immune system, transplant patients are at higher risk of fungal infections.

Contacted for details on the mold outbreak, state Health Department spokeswoman Amy Worden said the department is "actively investigating this report."

Even in otherwise healthy people, mold can affect health, according to a 2004 report from the Institute of Medicine, which found evidence that linked indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, coughs and wheezing.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration ( also cautions that exposure to mold can affect health, including allergic reactions. However, it says molds "in general, do not cause systemic infections in humans, except for persons with impaired immunity, AIDS, uncontrolled diabetes, or those taking immune suppressive drugs. …

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