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

Henrietta Brewer
July 4, 2019

Six patients were sickened and one died from infections by a garden-variety mold at the Seattle Children's Hospital officials revealed on Tuesday.

The hospital said the person who died and two others were infected in 2018 by Aspergillus fumigata.

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

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 disclosed the infections and death to The Seattle Times in response to follow-up questions regarding the closures of four operating rooms on its main Seattle campus May 18 because of Aspergillus mold and of the remaining 10 operating rooms May 24. "It is hard to predict when we will be able to safely resume operations but our patients' safety is our priority and we will reopen our operating rooms when we are confident they are safe for patient care", Bernal said.

The hospital hasn't determined when that will be.

About 1,000 surgeries have been postponed, while more urgent procedures have been moved to either Seattle Children's other campus in Bellevue, or the other regional hospitals.

Kurs said the hospital was "closely collaborating" with four other healthcare facilities in the area, "so that children in our region may continue to have access to the pediatric surgical services they need".

According to the Center or Disease Control and Prevention, Aspergillus is a common mold that most people breathe in every day without getting sick. Swedish said it is still working to determine how many surgeries it can take on. The mold can cause allergic reactions and infections in the lungs and other organs. An investigation conducted in May by Children's found gaps in the air-filtration system believed to be the key contributing factors to the air-quality issue, Bernal wrote in an email.

A patient at Seattle Children's Hospital has died from a fungus infection.

But the hospital has since said that the fungus was detected in mid-May this year, when several operating rooms were shut down for cleaning. In May, representatives from the hospital told KIRO Radio that the risk to patients from the mold was "very low".

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 CDC provided its expertise and "ultimately determined that Children's was taking the right approach to address the situation at that time", Apa wrote to The Post, saying that neither Apa's department nor the CDC produced reports.

The operating rooms will remain closed until they are safe, said Bernal.

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