Let’s face it, when we think about hospitals and healthcare facilities, we don’t want to see pests of any kind. This is our zero tolerance shield worn firmly and tightly as we maintain the expectation that healthcare facilities keep their premises 100% pest-free.
Did you know that there is an 80% risk of crawling insect infestation in hospitals? A 75% risk of rodent infestation too! The thought of this sends shivers down my spine and it reiterates how much we trust healthcare facilities in making sure that we, as patients and visitors, are kept safe.
The risk to healthcare
Healthcare facilities have a vested interest in maintaining a clean environment, free of infectious agents and pests. In their unrelenting search for food, pests contaminate medical supplies and equipment such as dressing materials, intravenous drips, syringes, catheters; hygiene sensitive surfaces and drains or waste bins, through feeding, droppings and the shedding of skin or tissue. Any pest infestation can easily lead to disease outbreaks, particularly vector-borne and food contamination diseases. Thus, ongoing pest management is a must for healthcare facilities.
The consequences of pest infestation in a healthcare setting, include:
- Contamination of medical equipment
- Infections resulting in serious medical complications
- Litigation in the event of non-compliance with applicable hygiene or health and safety legislation
- High costs of treating a full-blown pest infestation in comparison with the relatively modest cost of a preventative pest control program
The healthcare pest problem
Hospitals and nursing facilities are especially vulnerable to pests due to the multitude of access points through constant deliveries, storage and preparation of food, high patient or resident turnover, frequent visitors and structural defects.
Any evidence of pests inevitably leads to a profound loss of trust on the part of patients or residents, relatives and employees who will typically link an infestation to poor hygiene standards.
Integrated Pest Management Programs
An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program is key to overcoming the challenges and potential risks associated with pest infestation. IPM programs essentially anticipate and prevent pest activity through the integration of various strategies with the ultimate goal of achieving a long-term solution. The key components of an IPM program are:
- Structural repair
- Proper waste management
- Biological and mechanical control techniques
- Engagement of professional pest control
- Ongoing maintenance
Good housekeeping and sanitation practices are the first steps in preventing pest infestation.