Gustav’s rain causes mold at hospital

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 12, 2008

NATCHEZ — While it’s been over a week since Gustav passed over the area, the staff at Natchez Regional Medical Center is still dealing with the impact of the storm.

Regional’s CEO Scott Phillips said a combination of wind-driven rains and a loss of electricity made for an ideal mold growth environment.

As a result, the hospital’s six operating rooms are currently closed.

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Phillips said the operating rooms are adjacent to the hospital’s exterior walls and Gustav’s rains soaked through the bricks and into the area behind the drywall.

Since the hospital lost power, and was being run on a generator, the air conditioning units could not be run at full capacity and condensation built on the interior walls.

“It caused a mold plume,” Phillips said.

The hospital’s Vice President of Medical Affairs, Dr. Ken Stubbs, said the situation has been difficult.

“It’s a hassle,” he said. “But the staff has handled it very well.”

Stubbs said as a result of the unusable rooms the hospital has temporarily stopped all but emergency surgeries.

And to do that Phillips said the hospital has had to do some room swapping.

Phillips said two rooms in the labor and delivery unit, for cesarean sections, have been converted for general surgery and should be ready today.

Phillips said the hospital still has the capability to do cesarean sections.

In addition to the molded operating rooms, a roof leak drenched the carpet on the fifth floor and it’s now being replaced with vinyl flooring.

Phillips said the new operating rooms should be fully functional by next week and the new flooring should be installed around the same time.

“We’re moving quickly,” he said.

Phillips said the hospital has hired two crews to get the necessary repairs made as quickly as possible.

And even thought the hospital is in the midst of its restructuring period, Phillips has taken an optimistic outlook on the situation.

He said a tentative buyer would appreciate six newly renovated surgery rooms and the re-flooring of the fifth floor was already scheduled to be done.

“It essentially moved the project up by four weeks,” he said.

Right now the biggest unknown about the matter is the cost.

Phillips said the hospital has lost revenue from operations that have been canceled plus the cost of the repairs, which Phillips is hoping insurance will cover.

He estimated the cost of the work could be more than $100,000.