Mould prompts Parkholm renovations

Price expected to top $1.4 million for all four wings at the aging structure near Chilliwack General Hospital.

The former Parkholm Lodge under shrink wrap.

The former Parkholm Lodge under shrink wrap.

A wing of Parkholm Place in Chilliwack appears to be shrink-wrapped and a sign outside the health facility warns that it’s an infection control area.

But the plastic covering is actually a “dust containment method” as renovations are made to the East wing of the building, said Tasleem Juma, spokesperson for the Fraser Health Authority.

She said the infection control sign is required whenever the FHA undertakes construction projects, although mould was discovered in some areas of the Parkholm facility.

“It’s to contain all of that (dust and mould),” she said.

Asbestos was also found in the building and a certified asbestos consultant is on-site to supervise removal, she said.

Ten residents of the Cedar Ridge mental health facility at Parkholm were moved to Timber Creek in Surrey while the renovations are underway. Residents in other wings will also be moved as renovations continue.

All four wings are expected to be renovated by next summer at a total cost of $1.4 million.

The $250,000 in renovations for the first wing includes “stripping the outer skin off the building envelope,” Juma said, and installing energy-saving windows.

Last May, Fraser Valley Regional Health District directors balked when the FHA asked for $1.3 million to fix “extensive envelope failures” at Parkholm that had “compromised the safety of the workplace environment.”

“These failures are due to systemic leaking problems and the existence of mould,” FHA Financial Systems Director Brenda Ligett said in a letter to the FVRHD board.

Six employees with offices on the first floor of the East wing had reported respiratory problems, according to a consultant’s report.

“Parkholm Place has a history of indoor air quality problems related to the growth of moulds on indoor surfaces and within wall cavities,” the report found, and in October, 2011 a toilet had backed up further affecting two offices.

A “significant fungal contamination” was found on the exterior drywall of Room 28, according to the report, and was “likely to be present on exterior drywall of Rooms 25 to 27.”

The consultant said “fungal contamination will continue to grow unless the source of the water ingress is rectified.”

The consultant recommended hiring a Building Envelope consultant to assess the exterior of the building so the source of the water leak could be identified and repaired.

A former Parkholm employee, who asked not to be named, said she wondered why the FHA is sinking more health care dollars into renovating the 31-year-old building.

“Something was always wrong with that building,” she said. “Why do they keep putting money into it?”

But in February 2010, the FHA opened a $2.7-million 20-bed mental health unit at Parkholm.

The 20 beds at Parkholm were among 267 allocated around the Fraser Health region as part of a $138-million project by the B.C. government to close Riverview Hospital and move psychiatric patients to community-based facilities.