LOCAL NEWS

New emails show Seattle Children’s knew about mold problem for year and a half

Nov 20, 2019, 6:50 AM
Seattle Childrens, mold...
Seattle Children's Hospital. (Seattle Children's courtesy photo)
(Seattle Children's courtesy photo)

There are stunning revelations about deadly mold at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Internal e-mails reveal the hospital knew last year that there was a pattern of kids being infected.

Seattle Children’s details mold outbreaks dating back to 2001

KIRO 7 obtained e-mails that show Seattle Children’s Hospital knew kids were being infected by toxic mold long before they told the public.

Those e-mails were between Children’s and Seattle/ King County Public Health.

This stems from a public records request KIRO 7 filed in July.

Until Tuesday, the e-mails were heavily redacted. But a King County judge agreed some of the redactions could be undone.

They now reveal slightly more information and reveal who knew what and when.

The e-mails showl that King County health officials were asking the state’s premiere children’s hospital questions last year about the number of kids infected by the toxic mold aspergillus.

“How many patients with mold infections have been seen before this cluster in recent years?” health officials wrote June 19, 2018.

In these newly unredacted portions, it shows the hospital revealed to King County it had infected patients as far back as 2001, something the hospital had never told the public until Monday.

That’s when Children’s CEO held a news conference, saying they only recently realized there might be a correlation among the 14 cases of infections; six of those who were infected, died.

“At the time, we believed that these were isolated infections,” Dr. Jeff Sperring said. “However, we now believe that these infections were likely caused by the air handling system that serves our operating rooms.”

But it’s unclear why it took Children’s so long to make that connection, especially when, in these June 2018 e-mails, King County was already asking the hospital what they had learned from the past.

More infections as Seattle Children’s closes operating rooms

“What have you found on retrospective surveillance?” health officials asked.

“It’s a little concerning,” said Mary Curry, a parent from Alaska who has been coming with a sick child to Children’s for 10 years.

She says these latest revelations are disturbing.

“But they’re, like, the main hospital you go to,” Curry said. “So what other choice do you have?”

Seattle/King County Public Health said the e-mails did not include whether the patients died.

In a statement, health officials said, in part, “in earlier discussions with Children’s and experts at Centers for Disease Control, we did not think that the prior cases were related to the current problem.”

And they insist they made the connection only recently.

Written by Deborah Horne

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New emails show Seattle Children’s knew about mold problem for year and a half