Student at SUNY school who was hospitalized with health issues furious over mold in dorm rooms

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OLD WESTBURY, NY — Students at SUNY Old Westbury spoke out to PIX11 News Thursday about an ongoing problem with mold in their dorm rooms.

Sophomore Kalief Matellus described the symptoms that sent him to the emergency room twice last month as “throwing up, nausea, stuff like that.”

“I never knew that there was a mold situation until some representatives of the college checked,” he said.

His medical bills add up to $7,000.

He’s not the only one who’s been impacted.

“I started feeling light headed, head aches – all the symptoms that you get when you have mold present in your area,” junior Denieka Patterson told PIX11

Junior Larry Malcolm Smith said he’s had to go on his asthma machine three times a day.

Students say the mold problem at SUNY Old Westbury is concentrated inside the Woodlands Residence Halls. Smith and Matellus both had to throw out clothing covered in mold.

Matellus started a GoFundMe account to help him replace the lost items and a petition has been signed by over 500 students calling on the administration to do more.

In a statement to PIX11, SUNY Old Westbury said:

“Creating and maintaining a healthy, safe and comfortable environment for students is of critical importance to SUNY Old Westbury. Unfortunately, there is no one, simple solution to a natural phenomenon like mold, especially when operating buildings designed for a climate that existed 20 years ago. We put much time and effort in over the summer to install commercial dehumidifiers on every floor of each building, and to deep clean every room and HVAC unit, including replacing filters in every room with new ones manufactured with mold-inhibiting properties.

Through summer sessions and since students moved in nearly four weeks ago, the College has had five confirmed reports from students involving mold in their rooms in a community that houses approximately 800 students. In these isolated instances, the College responded within hours and remediated the conditions. As we have since move-in day, we ask our students to work with us by monitoring conditions in their rooms, keeping their windows closed to defend against humidity and by reporting immediately any circumstances they feel need to be addressed.”

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