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Toxic Mold outbreak forces Mercy Care Center
(nursing home) to close

Lincoln [Nebraska] Journal Star,

OMAHA -- More than 150 residents of a care facility will have to find a new place to live because of possibly unhealthy levels of mold.

Eight Mercy Care Center residents already have been moved to an adjacent center because their health conditions put them at higher risk of respiratory complications from mold exposure. The remainder were asked Saturday to find a new place to live in the next month.

Workers renovating two wings of the facility on Nov. 6 found substantial mold between the outer brick facade and the inner drywall. Officials with Alegent Health, the facility's parent company, decided Friday to close the facility after receiving a report on airborne mold concentrations in the building.

Alegent officials also said they presume the mold is growing throughout the uniformly constructed facility, even though it's been found in only a few areas. The lack of a moisture barrier between the interior and exterior walls is probably one cause for it, said Di Smalley, an Alegent vice president.

Alegent officials said they didn't believe they could renovate the building, even one wing at a time, without disrupting life for all residents. They also did not know if they would keep the building or tear it down.``We could not in good conscience put our patients through that,'' Smalley said. ``We have to close the center at this point.''

State health officials were informed Friday, but did not advise Alegent to close the facility, which has 135 long-term care beds and 20 skilled nursing beds.

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