Residents say “mystery” odor is making them sick

Some residents at a Davenport apartment complex for seniors say a mystery odor is making them sick.

A chemical-like smell in some parts of Walsh Hall at Marycrest Senior Housing started about three weeks ago.

“I get dizzy, I get nauseated, my eyes burn. Only in this building,” said resident Mary Bognar, who went to the emergency room Thursday after feeling out of sorts.

“It’s either a chemical or some kind of a gas leak,” she said.

Her cousin Sharon Zude lives down the hall and spent three days in the hospital this week, after experiencing flu-like symptoms.

“For three weeks, I’ve been smelling something like turpentine, varnish. I just got so sick, it was like I was going to pass out. At first, I thought it was carbon monoxide. I was afraid I wouldn’t wake up,” Zude said.

The women say management isn’t taking the issue seriously.

“They tell me they’ve had it checked, they can’t do nothing about it. The maintenance crew told me if I didn’t like the smell in here, I could move. But I can’t move. My husband has Alzheimers. We do not have the money to move,” Bognar said.

The complex is owned by Pioneer Property Management.  Site Manager Mike Wyant says the fire department checked and didn’t find any sort of leak, and suggested the ladies may be over-stating the problem.

“We cant fix what we can’t find,” Wyant said.

Caretaker Sadie Olsen says she’s angered by that response, and said Zude will stay with her and her son in a 600 sq. foot home, until they find her a new place to stay. But says, it shouldn’t have to be this way.

“They’re not listening and it makes them feel like they’re crazy and nobody’s fighting for them. They just write them off because they’re elderly,” said Olsen.

Olsen says she called the fire department, City Hall, the health department, and the state.

“These people have worked hard all their lives. Somebody should be speaking out for them to make sure they remain independent in their homes. This is not in their heads,” she said.

“I don’t know what it is. It smells like turpentine, and other times, it smells like a hodge podge of chemicals. I can’t stay very long. I get a migraine,” she said.

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