A domiciliary housing 175 patients at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Martinsburg, W.Va., has been closed after tests showed the presence of mold in many of the rooms.
The mold was discovered Thursday in the fan coils of air-conditioning units in the domiciliary, and patients were moved out on Friday, according to VA officials. Many of them are being housed in Martinsburg area hotels during the clean-up work, which the VA said will take two months.
Many of the patients affected are being treated for substance abuse and mental health disorders, according to veterans at the facility.
“We’ve been treated like second-class citizens,” said Dwight Long, a Navy veteran who said he is being treated for post traumatic stress disorder.
The VA described the health risk from the mold as “very low.”
“The safety of our veterans, visitors and staff is paramount in all that we do,” Jonathan Fierer, chief of staff of the facility, said in a statement. “Although the health risks from this type of mold exposure are very low, the medical center leadership felt the best course of action was to move all domiciliary patients until the remediation process is complete.”
VA officials said the moldy air-conditioning units are not connected to other buildings on the campus, including the 69-bed hospital.
Ann R. Brown, the medical center director, said in a statement that patient care and the medical center’s daily operational activities will not be interrupted. “We are making every effort to ensure this process is as smooth and expeditious as possible so that our veterans can move back into their rooms as quickly as possible,” she said
The Martinsburg facility provides care care to veterans in southeastern Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia.