Seattle Children’s shuts down 11 operating rooms over mold concerns

Seattle Children’s has currently closed 11 of its operating rooms after air tests conducted this weekend detected mold in multiple areas. The move comes several months after one person died and five others were sickened due to a mold infestation at the hospital.

“On Nov. 10, routine air test results revealed the presence of Aspergillus in three of our operating rooms and two procedural areas,” Kathryn Mueller, a Seattle Children’s spokesperson, told Fox News via email. “Out of an abundance of caution, we have currently closed 11 of our operating rooms. At this time, we will continue to perform emergent surgeries in the operating rooms that have advanced in-room filtration. Some surgical cases may be postponed or diverted to other local hospitals. We are also investigating two new potential Aspergillus surgical site infections.”

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Aspergillus is a common mold found both indoors and outdoors, and while most people breathe in the fungal spores every day without consequence, others with weakened immune systems or lung disease are at an elevated risk of developing complications. The complications can include allergic reactions, lung infections and infections of other organs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Mueller said the hospital is “deeply sorry for the impact the air quality issues in our operating rooms continue to have on our patients and families.”

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“Seattle Children’s remains committed to doing what’s right to keep our patients safe,” she said.

The statement said that all operating rooms will be closed at some point this week to investigate the facility’s air handling system and the cause of mold, but that it’s not clear when or for how long.

The hospital has reported the findings to state health authorities.

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In May, the hospital closed 14 operating rooms after Aspergillus was detected during a routine check, affecting some 1,000 procedures that had to be rescheduled or moved.

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