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Staten Island, NY - Moms And Babies Safe On Maternity Ward Despite Mold That Has Sickened Nursing Staff, Says SI Hospital

Published on: December 31, 2018 09:00 PM
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Staten Island, NY - Mold that sickened over four dozen employees on the maternity floor of a Staten Island hospital over the past few months has not affected any patients, according to facility officials.

Staten Island University Hospital executive director Dr. Brahim Ardolic confirmed that babies were removed to a backup nursery earlier in the fall after an odor was reported at the hospital’s North Campus, located in Ocean Breeze. 

While the hospital has said that no patients complained of any mold-related illnesses, 53 staff members reported multiple health issues, reported SILive.com (http://bit.ly/2VncinR).

“Across the board it has varied from eyes burning, headaches, nausea, washing, throat soreness, the metal taste in the mouth,” said SIUH nurse Dawn Cardello.  Others complained of smells of alcohol and burning rubber and feelings of haziness.


Air testing detected moderately elevated levels of mold which was subsequently traced to water-born mold located behind a sink wall, with repairs performed to correct the problem.

Continued health issues plaguing employees had the hospital performing further monitoring this month which detected another concern - trace levels of anesthetic gasses used in surgery. 

The amounts discovered were well below the workplace limits recommended by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and a medical air gas specialist was brought in to inspect the system, which was found to be leak free, according to Dr. Ardolic.

Nearly 30 environmental tests run by independent agencies and Northwell Health System, which owns Staten Island University Hospital have reported no risks, said Dr. Ardolic.  Nurse Gina D’agostino-Saia said that the staff on the maternity floor appreciates the hospital’s efforts, but that the problem has yet to be satisfactorily resolved.

“We’re still trying to work around it and people are getting sick and people are calling out and we’re short staffed,” said D’agostino-Saia who has gone to the emergency room because of persistent itchiness that she believes is work-related,.  “It’s becoming a hassle.”

The hospital has begun to rebuild its nursery, but nurses on the maternity floor are still experiencing symptoms when they come to work, prompting some to ask that the entire unit be relocated for the safety of staff members, mothers and babies.

“As a nurse, it’s my role and responsibility to inform patients if there’s any condition that can be potentially harmful and I’m blocked from doing that,” said Cardello.

A spokesperson for the New York State Department of Health said that the agency is reviewing multiple complaints concerning air quality at the hospital, and could not comment further on the matter at this time.

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