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  1. Military

Mold closes beds at Young VA center, may be a problem at Haley, too

Officials at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals on both sides of Tampa Bay are dealing with mold issues.

The C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center at Bay Pines has partially closed a ward in the main hospital building after the discovery of mold in shower rooms resulting from leaking pipes. Officials say the health of staff and patients is not affected and that because cleanup efforts were planned last year, there will be no interruption in patient services.

"We are not aware of any reported issues related to mold exposure," said Jason Dangel, a Young center spokesman.

Meantime, across the bay, officials at the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital in Tampa are investigating whether they have a mold problem at the new Primary Care Annex building.

Mold was discovered last year in shower rooms in wards 5A and 5B of the main hospital at the Young center due to water leaks, according to Dangel.

Between 150 and 170 employees work in those wards, according to Dangel, and a large portion of the medical center's 3,200 employees work in the building.

The two wards, which are used for surgical patients, have a total of 74 beds, said Dangel.

Ward 5B is partially closed, Dangel said. Of the total 38 beds available there, 13 have been taken out of service while work is being completed while 25 beds remain in service for patient care.

There has been no reduction in the total number of operating beds at the hospital, Dangel said.

Mold has been known to contribute to a variety of maladies, says the Centers for Disease Control, including upper respiratory and asthma symptoms.

Dangel said the mold problem at the Young center, and ongoing cleanup work, poses no danger.

"The overall impact is minimal and there are no concerns as it relates to patient care or environmental safety at this time," he said.

The two shower rooms were shut in March 2015 because of leaking water, Dangel said. In September 2015, tests showed a presence of mold in a shower room wall. Air samples showed no "significant degradation to indoor air quality," he said.

Work officially started Aug. 29, Dangel said. Once work is completed on ward 5B, estimated at eight to 10 weeks, work will begin on ward 5A.

The entire project is expected to last six months, Dangel said.

Officials at Haley are dealing with a potential mold problem at the Primary Care Annex, which opened two years ago.

The discovery last week of stained ceiling tiles after downpours from Hurricane Hermine prompted officials at Haley to contact the annex landlords, Duke Realty, said Karen Collins, a Haley spokeswoman.

Duke, which referred calls to Haley, hired contractors to investigate. Scaffolding and a containment area have been set up in the building's atrium as investigators check for mold, Collins said. Officials expect to know early next week whether mold is present and if so, what steps to take.

Contact Howard Altman at haltman@tampabay.com or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.

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