2 patients who contracted mold infections at UPMC Presby have died

2 patients who contracted mold infections at UPMC Presby have died

PITTSBURGH — Two heart transplant patients who contracted mold infections and died over the past year were patients in the UPMC Presbyterian cardiothoracic ICU, according to Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE.

Channel 11 News reported last week that the cardiothoracic ICU is closed because of a mold problem. The 18 patients in the unit were relocated to other parts of the hospital. TribLIVE first reported the outbreak.

Hospital officials said mold was found in the wall of a patient’s room and in some toilets of other rooms. The hospital is also reviewing all of the patients who stayed in the exposed room over the last year.

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Officials said at this time, it remains unclear what caused the mold to grow.

"This is really an evolving investigation," Tami Minnier, UPMC's chief quality officer, told TribLIVE. "I want to be right up front. I don't have all the answers yet. We are working as quickly and as effectively as we can."

She said the two deaths cannot be attributed to mold because both patients were already acutely ill at the time. She did not identify the patients but said their families have been notified.

"It's just heartbreaking," Minnier told TribLIVE. "I can't tell you how many hours we have already spent trying to understand it. I still feel like I am navigating a very active investigation."

She said the general public and hospital staff should not fear infection.

"Unless you are severely immunocompromised, you are extremely safe," she told TribLIVE.

When contacted for comment, officials sent Channel 11 News a link to a blog posted on the UPMC website.