Dozens of people working in the hospital’s maternity unit have reported getting ill with everything from headaches to dizziness to swollen throats in recent months, after air monitoring devices found the presence of mold and trace amounts of anesthetic gases, nurses and administrators say.
53 employees have reported getting sick in the unit, according to both nurses and hospital execs. A nursery has been relocated, but nurses are asking for their entire unit to be moved, something the hospital says is not necessary because tests show the air is safe.
After the odor was reported, babies were moved to a backup nursery in the unit and air monitoring began. Mold was detected at moderately elevated levels, similar to outdoor levels, hospital execs say. Workers found water-borne mold behind a sink wall and decontaminated the area.
The hospital said in a statement that air monitoring this month detected “the presence of anesthetic gases sevoflurane and nitrous oxide, which are routinely used during surgical procedures.”
Those concentrations were “significantly below” the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s recommended exposure limit and pose “no risk to patients, staff or visitors,” the statement said.
A certified air gas specialist was brought in to inspect the gas system’s infrastructure and found zero leaks, hospital administrators say. The air is now being retested to see if the trace amounts still remain.
“Hospital administration has been directly communicating with staff multiple times a week, met with union representatives six times and notified the appropriate regulatory agencies to proactively address this matter,” the statement added.