One of the nation’s top children’s hospitals has closed all of its operating theaters amid a months-long mold outbreak that has killed one patient and sickened five.
Seattle Children’s Hospital has contacted the families of at least 3,000 children who recently had surgeries in the affected rooms, and they may need to be monitored for infections.
It comes months after a patient at the hospital died from an infection caused by the same mold, Aspergillus.
Today, a hospital spokesperson confirmed that all 14 operating rooms were closed in mid-May, and operations are being conducted in other parts of the hospital, or being transferred to another campus.
One mother, whose son had sinus surgery at the hospital in April, says officials have refused to confirm or deny whether he was in an affected room, saying only that his surgery didn’t sound too serious and she should not worry.
‘He gets sick all the time… I get they have a lot of patients, but, I care about my kid,’ Jodie Puppe, mother of 11-year-old Ryan, told Q13 Fox.
Puppe says her son’s surgery took four-and-a-half hours, rather than the scheduled two, and he has struggled with sinus infections since.
She heard the news about Aspergillus in the hospital, and called the hotline that patients had been encouraged to call.
Aspergillus is a type of fungus that can grow on plants.
They can cause mild infections in people, but it is particularly aggressive in people with compromised or dampened immune systems, such as those undergoing surgery.
Those who are already sick are at higher risk of ‘invasive aspergillosis’, which can cause fever, chest pain, a cough, coughing up blood, and shortness of breath.
The operator who answered Puppe’s call could not confirm or deny whether he was affected, but said that, since Ryan’s operation was non-invasive, he has a lower risk of contracting an infection from Aspergillus than those undergoing, for example, a heart surgery.
‘I want them to tell me what’s going on. I deserve to know,’ Puppe said
‘They’re just like, ok, you have a lower risk, but they’re not really giving us information… So that’s frustrating. It really upsets me actually.
‘I feel like it actually gave even more anxiety just because I’m like OK, now you’re really not giving me any information.’
The hospital spokesperson, Alyse Bernal, said they are working as fast as possible to clear up the situation.
‘Patient safety is our top priority, and we are taking this situation very seriously,’ Bernal said in a news release.
Concerned patients are encouraged to call the hotline: 206-987-1061.