Building studied for mold, asbestos

A board tasked with overseeing hospital facilities learned an inspection found areas of mold and asbestos at the medical arts building. The plan is to remodel that building for a health clinic. They'll investigate further to see what is needed to remediate the problem areas.

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August 27, 2021 - 2:23 PM

The hospital’s Medical Arts Building at Second and Madison streets could get remodeled. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

Before they can remodel a medical arts building, a board in charge of hospital facilities will need to know how much mold and asbestos they might encounter during the process.

The Allen County Regional Hospital Facilities Board heard an update on plans to remodel the medical arts building at 825 E. Madison St. The building currently houses three specialty clinics with groups outside the Saint Luke’s Health System.

A preliminary investigation found areas of black mold and asbestos in one part of the building; further inspection is needed to determine how widespread the problem is and what it might take to remediate it.

The board agreed to spend $3,880 for a more in-depth inspection.

The plan is to remodel part of the building and move the health care clinic, currently at 401 S. Washington Ave., into that space.

The health clinic, like the hospital itself, is operated by Saint Luke’s as part of a lease agreement. The county still owns all of the facilities and is responsible for their upkeep. That includes remodel projects.

A SAINT Luke’s official, Frank Hayden, critical access region facilities manager, is working with the county facilities board on the remodel project. 

Hayden talked about the findings from the preliminary inspection.

The building had previously been flooded, so the discovery of mold wasn’t surprising, he said. The basement, which still contained old cardboard boxes, showed evidence of flooding. 

More concerning, though, were three spots of black mold found both at the top and bottom of a wall on the south side of the building, primarily off the rear entrance and near a restroom.  

There are many types of molds, and Hayden offered board members some reassurance that “it’s not the worst of the black molds.”

Asbestos was found in adhesive under carpet and tile. Again, that’s not an unexpected discovery. 

Asbestos is a naturally occurring, heat resistant material used in manufacturing and construction materials, particularly insulation, that has been used for decades. It’s also carcinogenic. When left alone, asbestos is not harmful. But when it is disturbed and becomes airborne, such as during renovation, special care is needed to protect humans.

The inspection also showed no evidence of lead paint in any areas.

The medical arts building was constructed in the 1970s by Iola Industries to attract young doctors during an industrial boom, board member Jim Gilpin said.

The hospital’s Medical Arts Building at Second and Madison streets could get remodeled. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

THE south side of the building, which has been vacant for about a year, has been sealed since the inspection. 

The preliminary investigation did not indicate problem areas in the north part of the building, which is used for clinic space, Hayden said. 

The next inspection should reveal if there are issues in that part of the building. 

“The pre-mitigation quote is to determine what is the extent of the problem, so we might have some idea what it will cost down the road,” Hayden told board members.

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