MURRIETA ---- Three of the five delivery rooms at Rancho Springs Medical Center have been temporarily closed due to possible mold contamination resulting from water leaks, officials with Southwest Healthcare System and the state Department of Health Services said this week.
The rooms were shut down by hospital officials late Monday afternoon after the leaks were discovered, said Teresa Fleege, a spokeswoman for Southwest Healthcare.
The state health department also ordered the rooms shut Tuesday after it received both an anonymous complaint and a call from hospital administration, department spokeswomen Leah Brooks and Norma Arceo said. The anonymous complaint was about possible mold and that the two remaining delivery rooms at the hospital may not be properly licensed, Brooks said.
The three rooms will not be able to be used for deliveries again until both the Department of Health Services and the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development give their approval, Brooks said.
Meanwhile, deliveries continued in the other two rooms as of Wednesday, Fleege said. As the need arises, she added, mothers-to-be are being sent to Inland Valley in Wildomar, which has five delivery rooms. Both these hospitals are part of Southwest Healthcare. Fleege said other hospitals in the area have also been notified that they might be getting Rancho's deliveries as well.
The Department of Health Services started its investigation after receiving the complaints Tuesday. Its staff is made up of nurses, doctors and medical experts, Arceo said. Employees with the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development are presently working with Rancho Springs to fix the problem, Arceo said.
Hospital officials stressed that it is not uncommon for mold to appear in businesses and added that they took immediate steps both to close the rooms that were affected and fix the problem.
According to the health department's Web site, mold spores can cause allergic reactions, fungal infections and other health problems. Most employees exposed to it will have no reaction, the Web site states.
The health department is also investigating whether the two remaining delivery rooms at the hospital are properly licensed. In order to be licensed, the rooms have to have meet state and federal standards on a variety of issues ranging from the size to lighting to the equipment to nurse-patient ratios, Brooks said.
Fleege said all the labor and delivery beds at Rancho Springs are licensed. In addition, she said she is optimistic that the closed rooms will be able to be reopened by the middle of next week. However, Brooks said these investigations can take anywhere from several weeks to several months.
"Before the rooms are open, (Rancho Springs) has to meet all the air quality standards to ensure there are no mold spores," Brooks said.
The water causing the mold is splashing from the sinks in the three closed delivery rooms, Fleege said. Hospital officials have hired a company that specializes in containing and repairing water damage, she added. A company approved by the Department of Health Services, Western Environmental Services, will be taking air samplings to check for mold, she said.
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