Pitkin County Senior Center clears the air | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County Senior Center clears the air

Charles Agar
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Martin Flores installs new roofing Wednesday at the Pitkin County Senior Center. (Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times)

ASPEN ” Although airborne mold from a leaky roof does not pose a viable health threat, the Pitkin Coun­ty Senior Center will remain closed for nearly two weeks as a precautionary measure, Aspen Valley Hospital officials said Wednesday.

AVH owns the senior-center building on Cas­tle Creek Road as well as the adjoining Whit­comb Terrace, an assisted-living facility for the elderly. Pitkin County runs the senior center, which welcomes day visitors for classes and events.

A leaky roof spawned mold spores in an open area at the senior center, prompting hospital offi­cials to call in an industrial hygienist, who said the mold was not dangerous. The problem was discovered last week, and Monday the center was closed.

Despite the building’s clean bill of health, John Schied, the hospital’s director of facilities, decid­ed closing the center until March 10 would give crews time to build a wall and cordon off a 150­square-foot area.

“We did it as a precautionary measure to err on the side of safety,” Schied said.

For now, all senior lunches and exercise class­es have been canceled, said Marty Ames, senior services director. Senior center offices have been moved temporarily to the Health and Human Services building near AVH, but Ames stressed that senior transportation service will con­tinue uninterrupted.

Schied said once the roof is clear of snow, crews will be able to make a perma­nent fix to the roof, dry out the room and eventually reopen the cordoned off area.

Schied said while the buildings share walls, there is no danger the mold con­tamination at the senior center could affect the 15 residents at Whitcomb Ter­race.

In fact, officials from Healthsafe Inspec­tions, the company Schied hired to test the air, did not recommend Shied close down the senior center, but he did so to play it safe.

The consultant reported that airborne mold counts were not “extremely high” and did not recommend any evacua­tion. Schied said simply closing the doors between the two buildings is more than sufficient to protect Whit­comb Terrace residents from any possi­ble effects.

“There are mold spores in the air all the time,” noted Lee Cassin, the city’s environ­mental health director. “There are no health standards for mold.”

Cassin said she has received calls about landlord-tenant squabbles over mold issues, but she usually refers them to state health offices.

“We always just try to help people solve the problem,” Cassin said. That means drying out the area first, then cleaning up the mold ” a solution often as simple as washing an area with bleach.

“I wouldn’t be alarmed if I had a relative living at the facility,” Cassin said. “It defi­nitely doesn’t raise a red flag, especially because they are fixing it.”

The moldy area is cordoned off and industrial fans are pumping air out of the building. A roofing crew was busy repair­ing the leaking roof at the senior center Wednesday. Schied said the work was on schedule and the center should be ready for business again March 10.


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