Scripps Memorial Hospital-La Jolla (Calif.) said it asked two facility managers to resign after a toxic fungus was once again found in the hospital six years after an outbreak was linked to a patient's death. The managers were asked to leave because "they clearly did not follow the maintenance schedules that were put in place'' more than five years ago, a hospital spokesman said. The state health department was called in after aspergillus, an airborne fungus commonly found in insulating material and walls or ceilings, was discovered in Scripps' ventilation system in March. Aspergillus is harmless to healthy people but can be lethal if inhaled by people with weakened immune systems. In the latest incident, the fungus had not developed spores that could become airborne, and no patients became ill before the hospital began cleaning its ventilation system, which runs through the seven-story, 278-bed hospital, the spokesman said. The process will take months to complete. Scripps Memorial was cited by the state health department in March 2000 after exposure to aspergillus -- which thrived during the hospital's remodeling project -- was found to have contributed to 16 patients' illnesses, including six who died. An autopsy performed at the time found severe aspergillus bronchopneumonia of both lungs in one of the patients. Scripps Memorial is owned by four-hospital, not-for-profit Scripps Health, San Diego. -- by Laura B. Benko
Toxic fungus found in Calif. hospital leads to resignations
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