NEAL P. GOSWAMI
BENNINGTON -- Air samples taken inside the Vermont Veterans Home have indicated the presence of mold in heating and cooling units and on some medical records in storage, according to Administrator Melissa Jackson.
The testing took place earlier this week after a "musty" smell returned to a common room on the home's dementia wing following a thorough cleaning, Jackson said. The room was then closed off to residents and staff until air samples could be collected and tested by Morrisville-based Crother's Environmental Group.
Jackson said Friday that the air samples showed the presence of the fungus, c.cladosporioides. "It was explained to me that it is very similar to (mold on) bathroom grout or if you don't clean your refrigerator," Jackson said.
Another mold, aspergillus-penicillium, was found in a storage room housing medical records, according to Jackson.
Catamount Environmental, a Wilmington-based firm specializing in environmental cleaning, will begin work on Monday to remove the mold, Jackson said. The heating and cooling units are shipped from the factory with fiberglass insulation, according to Jackson. That insulation will be replaced with a non-porous insulation that should prevent the reoccurrence of mold, she said.
All of the heating and cooling units will undergo the same cleaning and insulation removal "just to be safe," Jackson said. That process is expected to take about 10 days.
Meanwhile, the files in the storage room will be vacuumed with special filters to remove any mold spores. The room has been sealed until it can be cleaned, according to Jackson.
"It's just storage. There's no reason for staff to go in there so we've closed it off completely," she said.
Jackson said residents and staff have been informed of each step taken to remediate the mold. "They've been really good, really understanding. We're keeping everyone up to date," she said.
Twenty-two residents living on the dementia wing have been relocated to another section of the dementia unit, Jackson said.
Vermont State Employees Association spokesman Doug Gibson credited Veterans Home officials on Friday for the fast response.
"VSEA trusts that Veterans' Home administrators will act quickly to remediate the mold found in both the C-Wing and the Medical Records' area," Gibson said. "That said, VSEA is encouraged by management's actions, to date, which have been proactive. The elimination of all mold is a priority in any health care facility, but it's especially critical when the safety or health of our veterans and the people who care for them could be jeopardized."
Jackson said Friday there was no indication that the mold inside the building was causing any health issues.
"We don't have any conclusive evidence to say one way or the other," Jackson said.
State health officials were not available Friday to provide health information about the mold, a spokesman said.