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Cape Coral Hospital widens mold hunt

Facility's fourth floor will be inspected

Jul. 22, 2010


1:10 A.M. — Cape Coral Hospital will begin inspecting all patient rooms on the facility's fourth floor Monday to look for signs of mold beyond that found in a dozen patient rooms last week.

Industrial hygienists have not concluded wall discolorations in those 12 rooms are mold, but they told hospital officials to assume as much, said Lee Memorial Health System spokeswoman Karen Krieger.

Crews on Monday will begin setting up "containment envelopes" made of either plastic sheeting or floor-to-ceiling temporary drywall around eight rooms at a time to look for signs of mold behind wallpapering.

The rooms will be closed off to the public, and devices will be put in place to ensure air flows only into the rooms, and not out.

Any discolored drywall and insulation will be removed and replaced, Krieger said. Work will start first on the rooms that have suspected mold.

System officials do not have an estimate on how much the work may cost, although it likely will be expensive.

"I imagine it probably will be," said Stephen Streed, the system's director of epidemiology. "Still, we're all about patient and public safety, so we have no problem with it."

Mold can cause respiratory irritation, allergic reactions and, sometimes, infections.

Patients in the 12 affected rooms were moved to another part of the hospital once the wall discolorations were discovered. Others will be moved later, as workers schedule room inspections. None on the floor are critical care or intensive care patients, Krieger said.

The fourth floor has 29 patient rooms. Industrial hygiene companies Environ of Tampa and Cross Remediation of Crystal Springs will do the work over the next few weeks, Streed said.

Hospital workers discovered wall discoloration in 12 rooms on July 14 and notified the Agency for Health Care Administration, the state's hospital regulator.

All the stains were found near air conditioning units, which likely caused moisture to build up behind the vinyl wall paper covering the so-called "foot walls" - those patients face while in bed, officials said.

The system is now phasing out wallpaper in its facilities, Streed said.

AHCA inspectors visited the hospital July 16.

"(T)he facility appears to have taken the appropriate steps to isolate this issue, protect the patients, bring in the appropriate contractors and professionals to ensure patient safety, and make the necessary repairs and safeguards," AHCA spokeswoman Shelisha Durden wrote in a statement Thursday.

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