No building is immune to pests, but some have more to lose than others because of some hidden dangers.
According to results from a 2013 survey conducted by Atlanta-based pest control company Orkin and the Association for the Healthcare Environment, ants, flies, roaches and bed bugs are the top four most challenging pests for health care facilities to prevent and control. More than being just a nuisance, these pests can pose health dangers to patients, many of whom are already sick.
A single female bed bug, for instance, can lay as many as 100 eggs in a lifetime and the nymphs can become reproductive just months later. Bed bug bites can cause minor to complex skin reactions. Larger pests, such as rats and mice, are known to spread more than 35 diseases worldwide.
Fortunately, these pests come with some telltale signs that make it possible for environmental services professionals to identify them before more damage is caused, as explained in "Diagnosing health facility pest activity." This article gives tips on how to identify 11 common pests and ways to prevent them from entering health facilities. For instance, clearing overgrown landscape can help to prevent ants, crickets and rodents.
No surprise, the AHE states that the goal for environmental services managers is to create an integrated pest management (IPM) plan that prevents pests from entering a facility and becoming a major threat. The organization recommends that health care facilities follow three major steps when implementing an IPM plan.
First, have a licensed pest management professional conduct a comprehensive facility inspection. Next, remediate any existing pest activity and implement preventive measures based on the inspection. The third step is to create a collaborative program for an ongoing cycle of activities from regular, scheduled inspection to monitoring and documentation.
The plan also should be tailored to your specific facility. Depending on the location, architecture and nature of a facility, different pests can be drawn to one facility versus another. In “Health care facility-specific pest management,” Entemologist Ron Harrison, Ph.D., lists common outpatient facility types and pests to guard against.
He also warns, however, that “when it comes to pest control in health facilities, for instance, one strategy doesn’t fit all. Each facility is different, and different environments feature hot spots with different pest issues.” That is why a tailored plan is critical.