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Some St. Joe nurses claim workplace mycotoxins are making them sick

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by herring_RN herring_RN (Guide) Guide Expert Nurse Verified

herring_RN specializes in Critical care, tele, Medical-Surgical.

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... "we started talking to each other and realized a bunch of us were having the same symptoms," said one nurse. "and some of these are people with no history of asthma, who grew up in humboldt county and who never had an issue with mold before."

"we're all really young, and we're all getting really sick," said another nurse, who added that one nurse's hair began falling out, and another temporarily lost vision in one eye....

... several of the nurses said they first went to their primary care doctors to have blood work done to see what might be causing their symptoms, but the results showed nothing. so last july some of them asked management to order an air quality test to be conducted; they suspected mold might be an issue. shortly after they made that request, one of the nurses said, they were given employee health incident reports to fill out, but they didn't know how to fill them out because they didn't know the "specific date of injury."

"and we heard nothing about mold," the nurse said....

... in september, according to documents procured from the hospital by cna labor representative ian selden, tests for mold spores in the new tower under construction came back positive for several kinds of mold in a few locations, including in some spots abundant amounts of the highly toxic aspergillis. according to an agenda from a "nurse leadership team" meeting, this spring, mold was found in a patient room, bathroom and employee break room in an existing wing of the hospital....

... after these discoveries, some of the nurses had their doctors order a mold toxin test, and they submitted urine samples to a mold-testing firm in texas-at nearly $700 per test, which the nurses paid for themselves, said donahue, the shop steward. of the five nurses tested to date by this firm, all five tested positive for one or more strains of three major molds toxins: aflatoxin, ochratoxin and trichothecenes, which can affect the liver, kidney and nervous system. of those five nurses, two are now on disability, one switched to another department, one quit and one is still in the pcu unit, according to one of the nurses. more nurses, she said, are getting tested.

on tuesday, st. joseph communications specialist courtney hunt-munther sent the journal a statement saying the hospital is "completely committed to providing a safe working environment for our employees and a safe healing environment for our patients."...

... some of the nurses who are party to the grievance, however, claim that when they reported their symptoms, concerns and test results to hospital management, they were treated rudely and dismissively. furthermore, said donahue-who works in another unit and is not one of the nurses reporting symptoms-some of the nurses told her they were asked to keep quiet about their test results....

... the hospital, donahue said, appears to be denying any connection between mold in the hospital and the mold toxins present in the nurses who've been tested.

"all the nurses want is to have the hospital own what is happening," said donahue. "they want to know how the hospital is going to help them-with testing and with paying for their medical bills."...

http://www.northcoastjournal.com/news/2011/05/12/mold-grievance/3/

mold3_jpg_405x246_crop_upscale_q85.jpg

one of the nurses took this photo of the mold growing in a patient room bathroom.

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I have to wonder how past and current patients of the hospital are going to react to this. I have a feeling the hospital is going to have a lot more to deal with now that this story is out.

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cherryames1949 has 27 years experience and specializes in Oncology&Homecare.

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I have to wonder how past and current patients of the hospital are going to react to this. I have a feeling the hospital is going to have a lot more to deal with now that this story is out.

This is just another example of callous and irresponsible treatment of employees by a big corporation. The problem will only be addressed when it begins to affect the bottom line. The hospital will then spin their actions as concern for patients.:down:

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herring_RN specializes in Critical care, tele, Medical-Surgical.

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what city?

mold grievance

some st. joe nurses claim workplace mycotoxins are making them sick

(may 12, 2011) the california nurses association filed a grievance last week with st. joseph health system-humboldt county on behalf of several registered nurses at its eureka hospital whom the cna claims have been affected by mold found growing in the new tower, still under construction, as well as in the progressive care unit in an existing building connected to the tower....

http://www.northcoastjournal.com/news/2011/05/12/mold-grievance/

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If you are chronically ill with any sort of rash or respiratory complaint, do not be surprised if you are working in an environment contaminated with mold.

If you determine that your workplace is contaminated with mold, GET OUT OF THAT ENVIRONMENT. Have your doctor certify that you are NOT allowed to work in the environment that made you sick. Continuous exposure to mold can cause long term and catastrophic damage to your health.

File a worker's comp claim and get a lawyer (who specializes in worker's comp) on stand by. Once you file a worker's comp claim, be prepared for your personal information to be bandied about the work place freely. Be prepared for vicious lies and unfounded rumors to be spread about you with the goal of damaging your personal and professional reputation. Be prepared for all nature of attempts to manipulate you and humiliate you so that you will drop your claim and quit your job. Be prepared for co-workers you like and respect to turn on you like a pack of rabid dogs.

Be aware that it is all a money game. Organizations do not give a flip about you or your well being. Human resources are considered disposable. They would rather spend more money on attorneys to drag your case out and ruin you financially and professionally than to spend less money to correct the environmental problem and return you to health. It is all carefully calculated. They do not care if people die.

Be aware that if you work for a State of Federal facility, then you will be afforded NO protection under OSHA or NIOSH. OSHA and NIOSH do not hold public employers to the same standards as private employers.

Organizations can KNOW for decades that there is a serious environmental hazard in the workplace, and they very consciously and very deliberately calculate the costs. They know on average how many people will be easily discouraged from pursuing a claim. They know what your life expectancy is and they know how many people in your life could legally file a claim for damages for your wrongful death. They know what you owe on your mortgage and they know plenty enough about you to know just how far they have to push things until they can break you and make you give up. It's all a numbers game and a racket for them.

Understand this: NOBODY is as concerned about your health, safety, or well being as you are. You are disposable and another warm body will fill you place in no time flat. You must make your health and safety your number one priority. Your health can be damaged for good or you can die as a result of toxic mold exposure.

Having worked for the State of Louisiana's Office of Risk Management, I know how executives play these games with NO regard for human life. I have seen the business men in action.

This is the voice of experience talking. After 5 long years, I finally got a court date and had the longest worker's compensation trial in the history of the State of Louisiana. Though many many other people were sickened and harmed, I stood alone. Everyone else was so in fear of losing the jobs they had in the dangerous environment. They were also afraid of having what was done to me personally and professionally, done to them. I was awarded the maximum damages allowed under the law, but that didn't nearly cover actual financial losses I suffered and it certainly did not make a dent in the damage done to my health. Ironically enough, I count myself lucky. I was fortunate enough to figure out what was making me ill, and fortunate enough to be working for the agency that had all the records to substantiate the problem. I was most fortunate enough to figure it out and get the hell out of the environment before it killed me. People who had started work there long before I did, were not so fortunate. They died from the exposure without ever knowing for sure what was making them sick. I was very fortunate in that my health improved significantly after several years of being out of the contaminated environment. I am no where close to being 100% of my pre-exposure health and activities, but I am able to once again lead a fairly normal life.

If I had a magic wand, I would conk in the head the wretched people who allow unsafe conditions and I would never allow anyone to be deliberately subjected to unsafe working conditions. I would not want anyone in the world to face the hardships I have faced in dealing with this.

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