Protecting Patients and Staff from Healthcare-Associated Mold Outbreaks
The infection control and building science professionals at Clark Seif Clark provide consulting, training and indoor environmental quality testing services to identify microbial pathogens to help prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).
Chatsworth, CA -- Over the last several years there have been multiple hospitals in the United States that have had to halt operations and temporarily close portions of their facilities after the discovery of indoor mold growth. The closures were put in place to prevent exposure risks to staff and patients, especially for those vulnerable to fungal infections due to a weakened or suppressed immune system.
A fungal disease outbreak is described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as two or more people getting sick from contact with the same source, sometimes at the same time and place. Since these outbreaks can take place in hospitals or other sensitive healthcare environments, the agency provides the following answers to frequently asked questions about mold in healthcare facilities:
Where does mold grow?
Mold lives both outdoors and indoors. It can grow in homes and other buildings, including healthcare facilities, and it grows best in places with lots of moisture.
How can mold affect health?
Mold can cause a variety of health problems, or none at all. The most severe health problems caused by mold include serious infections.
How do people get mold infections?
Most people breathe in mold spores every day without getting sick. However, some people, especially those with weakened immune systems, can develop infections after breathing in mold or having other contact with mold.
What can a healthcare facility do to prevent invasive mold infections?
Healthcare facilities take special precautions to prevent patients from getting sick from indoor mold. These precautions include:
- Filtering the air.
- Giving some patients with weakened immune systems antifungal medicine to prevent mold infections.
- Placing some patients in rooms where the air flow reduces the chances of the patient getting an infection.
- Fixing water leaks and repairing damages as fast as possible.
- Reducing dust during construction.
- Tracking the number of patients with mold infections to monitor for an increase, which could signal a problem with indoor mold.
“Although a wide variety of fungi, including mold and mold byproducts, are found everywhere on Earth, there is a potential for overexposure beyond background concentrations if growth occurs indoors. Overexposure to fungi increases the risk of adverse health effects such as infections,” said Derrick A. Denis, Vice President of Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) for Clark Seif Clark (CSC). “However, infections, such as those associated with fungal disease outbreaks, are not the only potential negative outcomes of exposure to elevated fungal levels of indoors. Fungi, such as molds, can cause or trigger allergies or asthma attacks in sensitive individuals, as well as act as a respiratory irritant. Overexposure to some fungi or their byproducts can result in intoxication. These are all reasons why healthcare centers, nursing homes and long-term care facilities need to be especially vigilant in preventing conditions that could allow for the growth of fungi indoors. And, this is why a rapid and thorough response to water damage and visible fungal growth is so important for these vulnerable populations. At CSC, our building science and infection control professionals offer building inspections, IEQ testing, consulting and training services to help prevent and mitigate these types of indoor exposure risks.”
CSC also recently sponsored an educational video about healthcare-associated mold outbreaks that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/4PG-PkrgenM
To learn more about this or other microbial, infection control, environmental, industrial hygiene, building science, health and safety services, please visit www.csceng.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800) 807-1118.
About Clark Seif Clark
CSC was established in 1989 to help clients in both public and private sectors address indoor air quality, occupational, environmental, and health and safety (EH&S) issues. CSC is a leading provider of these services with multiple offices along the western seaboard and southwest. The company believes in science-based protocols and has a strong background in engineering, making them the preferred environmental consultants to industrial clients, healthcare facilities, architects, schools, builders, contractors, developers and real estate professionals.