AHS officials speak on Crowsnest hospital mold concerns 0
A week after mold concerns at the Crowsnest Health Centre filtered through the community and across the province, officials with Alberta Health Services (AHS) are defending their position that all the appropriate measures were taken.
Nearing the end of June, mold was not only found in the cavities of the medical surgery wing-walls and ceilings of the acute care area-but also family style rooms as well.
Sean Chilton, AHS senior vice-president of the south zone, informed the Promoter that remediation work was well underway by early July.
"Once the remediation work was beginning, we notified all our patients and residents in the long term care facility, as well as the visitors who were in the facility," he said.
In mid July, letters were sent out to staff, residents as well as patients and Chilton said they were issued at that time because the situation as he described it was well under control.
"I think people were pleased to know what was going on and what was happening," he said in a telephone interview, referring to those people who received the letters.
The mold was located through routine inspections completed by infection prevention staff. Based on inspections by environmental health staff and the chief medical officer, the mold was never deemed to be a health hazard.
Remediation crews contained the spores and the mold was not allowed to spread.
As the public outside the hospital was learning of the mold concerns, Chilton said remediation crews were in the reconstruction phase-fixing the damaged drywall.
"There was no risk to the general public in the community," Chilton explained. "However, we did let the patients, family and residents know what was happening."
AHS had contracted in an expert remediation service that immediately began fixing any more leaks in the roof-proactively stopping more possibly mold. Areas where the mold was found were sealed off and experts removed the spore-damaged drywall.
"Once the remediation started and the measures had been put in place to prevent those mold spores getting air borne, we let people know what was happening," he noted.
Chilton said ensuring the safety of everyone in the hospital was top priority and all appropriate measures were taken. In the July 18 letter, Chilton said some of the equipment used by remediation crews could have been concerning to residents.
"We recognize it may be alarming to see individuals in protective clothing, hoods and goggles," Chilton wrote to patients. "This is for their protection, obviously, but also a best practice proven to reduce the risk that mould will spread beyond the affected areas into other parts of the health centre."
For those patients and visitors unaware of the letters sent and the mold clean up process, Chilton said facility staff was ready and waiting for questions.
"We let the public know at the time that it occurred," he said, referring to those working and being treated in the centre. "There was no risk to the general public and we didn't feel it was necessary to issue any kind of media release at that point."
As of now, the removal of the mold has been completed for some time and reconstruction of the areas is now underway.
Chilton said the entire roof over the acute care section of the health centre would be replaced. The leaks, which caused the mold, have been fixed and are holding through the summer storms.