WORK is under way to remove a mould infestation that has forced the closure of Ipswich Hospital's intensive care unit.
The last of the ICU's patients was relocated late last week and, having started work on Friday, hospital maintenance staff and external contractors have already dismantled a section of the ward.
The extensive refurbishment has so far included the removal of affected air vents, ducts and ceiling tiles.
Pre and post mould testing will be conducted to check that the levels are safe.
West Moreton Hospital and Health Service chief executive Dr Kerrie Freeman said the reconstruction would take about one week and the plan was to reopen the ICU next Monday.
"The unit was stripped back by Sunday, with everything removed - from beds and monitors to computers and televisions," Dr Freeman said.
"This included removing and replacing air-conditioning vents and ceiling tiles.
"Professional decontamination and clinical cleaning is now underway.
"At this stage, the refit of the unit should finish early next week.
"Benchmark air quality and mould level readings were taken before work started.
"Further testing will be carried when the work is finished, to confirm the mould has been eliminated."
Dr Freeman said staff and contractors had been working around the clock.
The contractors are specialists in the field and will carry out a detergent clean, chemical clean and fogging, or air mist treatment, to eliminate spores in the air.
The hospital says this work should eliminate 99.98% of mould.
The air-conditioning system was blamed for an outbreak of mould that was first noticed in offices adjoining the ICU about two years ago.
When the mould was first identified in April 2015 it was treated with a high-grade clinical clean.
"This is in keeping with relevant guidelines for preventative treatment," Dr Freeman said.
Air conditioning systems in the hospital are subject to regular scheduled maintenance inspection.
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