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Mold Discovery Shuts Down Intensive Care Unit At Pittsburgh VA In Oakland

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The discovery of mold during a routine maintenance inspection shut down the intensive care unit at the Pittsburgh VA's University Drive campus in Oakland.

Officials with the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System say patient care has not been interrupted or adversely affected, and they have not diagnosed any illnesses due to the mold.

VA officials say the mold was found "during routine maintenance on a portion of an HVAC system that serves an intensive care unit."

According to VA officials, six patients were moved from the unit before the maintenance work began. Until doctors get the all-clear, no patients are allowed in that unit or the nearby sleep lab.

"There isn't any risk to the patients in that unit, but when we found the mold, mold doesn't belong there," said Dr. Brooke Decker, director of infection prevention at the VA Hospital. "We elected to keep the unit closed and to make sure remediation could be done prior to reopening the unit, to make sure all that mold is gone."

The mold was in a fan compartment, and Dr. Decker says the filtration system would have caught it before it became airborne. After the cleanup, new samples will be tested.

"Once we get the test results back and they're favorable, then we'll make the decision to start moving patients back in the area and start the area back up again," facility manager Jim Alban said. "We'll leave it shut down until that time."

The clean-up will wrap up and new samples will be sent out Monday.

Crews inspected all other HVAC operations in the hospital but did not find any other areas of concern.

Meanwhile, Dr. Decker says the decision to go public with the discovery of the mold actually falls in line with the hospital's commitment to get the right information out to the public so there's not any fear among the public about the mold.

Anyone with concerns or questions related to the mold issue is being asked to call the VA Pittsburgh Hotline at 412-360-1199.

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