Mould discovered growing under cabinet in reception office when the cabinet was moved last week.
Mould discovered growing under cabinet in reception office when the cabinet was moved last week.

Health authorities respond to mould issues at health centre

UPDATE: THE acting chief executive Northern NSW Local Health District, Lynne Weir, says authorities are dealing with mould issues at a local community health centre.

In a release to the media, Ms Weir said the Northern NSW Local Health District had taken on board issues raised by staff and the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association earlier this year about the presence of mould in the building.

But the release downplayed health concerns raised by Aruma staff, including a diagnosis of the mould-induced respiratory disease aspergillosis.

Ms Weir said the NNSWLHD was not aware of any staff who had contracted the disease.

She said the health district would be working the the Health Services Union when its officers come to inspect the buildings.

EARLIER: MOULD-infested buildings at a Grafton community health centre are putting staff health at risk, claims a whistleblower.

A staff member at Grafton Community Health at Aruma in Queen St said administration workers and nurses had complained for more than a decade about mould growing throughout the building.

The staff member, whose identity cannot be revealed, said a number of staff had tested positive to the mould-induced respiratory disease aspergillosis when checked by an independent doctor.

They said staff had paid for the tests privately after management refused workplace tests.

The staff member said management attempted to dismiss staff concerns about the mould, despite staff complaining of coughs and skin rashes that only appeared when they were at work.

"They told us that aspergillosis was everywhere - that you can get it from opening a bag of potting mix," the staff member said.

"One of the staff replied that they didn't garden, so where did it come from?"

They said management did not offer an explanation for multiple cases of the disease occurring in staff at the one location.

Staff blame lack of maintenance in the ageing buildings for the proliferation of mould.

 

Mould is clearly visible on the ceiling in the nurses room at Aruma.
Mould is clearly visible on the ceiling in the nurses room at Aruma.

"The building maintenance is shocking," said the staff member. "There's plants growing in the gutters, which are blocked.

"Every time it rains, the roof leaks, which is just perfect for mould."

Staff said mould was clearly visible on walls in common rooms but when furniture was moved, the real extent of the problem was revealed.

 

Mould has spread from the cabinet in the Aruma administration office to the floor.
Mould has spread from the cabinet in the Aruma administration office to the floor.

"We moved a cabinet on Friday, and the mould we found behind it was growing like a forest," said the staff member.

Staff said the mould made working at Aruma unpleasant for most staff.

"Yesterday it was overcast and there was a bit of a shower," they said.

"Just that little bit of extra moisture made it really bad. The smell was horrendous and your eyes began to sting as soon as you entered the building."

This week a union representing some of the staff, the Health Services Union, will inspect the building.

The union wants access to a report into air quality in the buildings that was commissioned after staff complained about the amount of mould.



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