Excess rain and humidity this summer have led to water damage and mold in the Ocie Pope Education Building of Northeast Georgia Medical Center.
“We did a thorough inspection and found where moisture had entered the walls,” said Melissa Tymchuk, director of public relations and marketing. “We then hired a remediation company, who is currently addressing the problem.”
Tymchuk said the building inspection and air quality tests were ordered after the water damage was detected, with the worst of the damage occurring during the second week of July.
The building, used for offices and occasional educational programs, is separate from the main hospital buildings. No patients are housed there, and none were exposed to the mold.
Eighteen employees in the affected areas were relocated, with three being treated for upper respiratory symptoms, sneezing and coughing.
So far, one employee who was relocated from the building’s second floor has returned to the office, as work has been completed in that area. Tymchuk did not say when the repairs were expected to be finished.
“The company is working as quickly as possible to resolve the problem,” she said.
The repairs involve removal and replacement of the dry wall and other affected materials, and repair of the exterior drainage system.
Lee Keenum, general manager of Paul Davis Restoration in Gainesville, said this year has been particularly bad for mold growth.
“We’re seeing that people have had homes that they’ve been in for 20, 30 years and never had an issue,” Keenum said. “And now they’re growing mold.”
He blames the high humidity levels for the problem.
“The relative humidity level here hasn’t been below 70 percent for three months,” he said. “That’s just crazy for us.”