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Patients, Administrators React to Discovery of Mold at MWV

All 175 patients at the Martinsburg VA Medical Center domiciliary have been moved out of their rooms after mold was found in a majority of the stand-alone air conditioning units located in 210 rooms.
MARTINSBURG, Wv. - All 175 patients at the Martinsburg VA Medical Center (MWV) domiciliary have been moved out of their rooms after mold was found in a majority of the stand-alone air conditioning units located in 210 rooms.

"They told us that we'd be back in here on Monday at the latest, and now we're hearing eight weeks and basically everyone here was displaced," said MWV patient Paul Wait.

MWV representatives say they moved quickly to make sure the problem was taken care of. They say their own staff started cleanup on August 22, the same day the mold was discovered. They then brought in a professional abatement crew on Saturday after finding more mold.

Fred Gordin, chief of infectious diseases at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C. stresses the type of mold found is harmless to the average, healthy person.

"People don't really get sick from this,” said Gordin. “Rarely, some people…they can either get exacerbations of asthma, or if we have a particular person with leukemia."

But he says most of the domiciliary patients are not susceptible this common mold, which is similar to the type found on bread or a shower curtain. He says they will check patient charts to determine who may have been at risk.

"Up until this point they haven't been forthcoming with anything with us, and that's a problem. Our trust level with the VA is pretty much shot and you can't get that back," said Wait.

A 2008 report from the inspector general does confirm that instances of mold were found in several areas of the Martinsburg VA Medical Center in 2007.

The center says they currently have two inspections for mold per year, but they are now considering having more.

Despite many complaints, some patients say they do think the center has done a good job dealing with the mold infestation.

The center says they expect patients will be able to move back into their rooms in about eight weeks at most. Currently, some patients are staying with family or friends or in other rooms at the center.

**photo courtesy of www.martinsburg.va.gov

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