Mold found in Staten Island University Hospital North’s maternity unit is being blamed for dozens of employees falling ill in recent months, according to a New York Daily News report.
Approximately 53 nurses and other healthcare workers in the maternity unit reported illnesses such as headaches, dizziness, and swollen throats after air monitoring devices found the presence of mold and trace amounts of anesthetic gases. Hospital officials say no patients have had symptoms.
In September, staff reported a chemical odor in the nursery on the hospitals’ maternity floor; several reported suffering from headaches and experiencing dizziness. After the odor was reported, nurses requested that the babies be moved to a backup nursery in the maternity unit.
One nurse, Robyn Jacobs, 65, told the Daily News that she would get sick every time she entered the nursery. Her symptoms included, headaches, swollen glands, and sore throats. She also indicated that as many as eight nurses became sick the first day the odor was identified.
After air monitoring was done, mold was found at moderately elevated levels, with waterborne mold found behind a sink wall. The area was decontaminated, and the nursery is being rebuilt after recent air monitoring results found the air to be clear, according to the report.
The hospital has conducted numerous air quality tests and in a recent statement said there was “no risk to patients, staff, or visitors.”
"Hospital administration has been directly communicating with staff multiple times a week, met with union representatives numerous times and notified the appropriate regulatory agencies to proactively address this matter," SIUH Executive Director Brahim Ardolic, MD, said in a statement to NBC 4 New York. "Our main focus has been to properly mitigate the nursery area to continue providing care in the safest environment possible for our patients and staff."