1 dead, 5 infected by mold that halted Seattle Children’s Hospital surgeries

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That's the toll so far from mold problems at Seattle Children's Hospital that forced the indefinite shutdown of all main operating rooms this May. Two others were infected in 2018 and three were infected this year, according to the hospital.

On Wednesday, the hospital confirmed to Fox News that one patient was dead because of potentially unsafe mold.

The hospital said the patients who were infected were at a higher risk because of the types of procedures they had.

The patient was one of six to develop an infection from 2018-2019, according to Alyse Bernal, public relations manager for the hospital.

The hospital closed four operating rooms on May 18 and the other 10 on May 24 due to Aspergillus mold, but the revelations of the ill patients come in response to follow-up questions from The Seattle Times, which broke the story.

Bernal further added, "Seattle Children's is committed to maintaining a safe environment for our patients, and we will reopen our operating rooms when we are confident they are safe for patient care".

About 1,000 surgeries have been postponed as a result of the closures, the Times reports, though some have been moved to other facilities owned by the hospital and others transferred to Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical Center, Swedish Medical Center and Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma.

Aspergillus is a common mold found outdoors and indoors, and people breathe it daily without getting sick, according to the CDC.

Those who developed infections at the hospital were at high risk because of the type of system they had, Bernal stated.

"Both hospitals are working with Seattle Children's to make sure that they do what they can do to help them", Mankowski said. Bernal said the mold is believed to be present in the gaps in air filtration.

The hospital told the Times that its operating rooms have been infected off and on for "about a year", due to issues with the room's air handling and purification systems.

The hospital is now working with several industrial hygienists to make the rooms free of Aspergillus contamination.

Children's also reached out to Public Health - Seattle & King County, which connected the hospital to the CDC because the federal agency had more expertise dealing with that kind of mold, public health spokesperson James Apa said. It's also deep-cleaned its rooms and started disinfecting surfaces with ultraviolet light, she said. Washington state Department of Health investigators also checked out the hospital and offered suggestions on how to improve air quality, which the hospital followed, Bernal wrote. Bernal said the additional closures were needed so crews could access and fix the hospital's air system.

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