Cardiothoracic ICU at UPMC Presby shut down due to mold infestation

Part of ICU at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital infested with mold

PITTSBURGH — A mold outbreak has caused the cardiothoracic intensive care unit at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital to close.

Officials with UPMC Presbyterian Hospital tell Channel 11 News that 18 patients had to be relocated because of the infestation.

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Doctors suspected the unit had a problem on Sept. 3 after a transplant patient tested positive for mold in an external wound, Holly Lorenz, chief nursing officer for UPMC, told Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE.

Officials tell Channel 11 News that they immediately moved patients to other parts of the hospital to ensure their health and safety.

The mold is a threat to patients with severely compromised immune systems, not to healthy staff members and visitors, who regularly encounter mold in the environment, officials said.

A team of experts from infection prevention, facilities, nursing and other areas is working with an outside remediation company to ensure that the ICU can reopen safely.

There is no specific reopening date at this time.

"It is a rare and unfortunate event, and I'm really blessed to have the level of expertise here at UPMC Presbyterian to help us solve the problem," Lorenz told TribLIVE. "We've closed down the unit entirely for obvious patient safety reasons."

Hospital officials say they have notified the affected patients and families and the appropriate regulators.

"The Department of Health is actively investigating this report,” Pennsylvania Department of Health Communications Director Amy Worden said in a statement to Channel 11 News.

The cardiothoracic ICU typically handles patients with heart and lung disease who are admitted for heart procedures or transplants.