Healthcare facilities are our core destinations for physical and mental well-being. With the amount of sick and immunocompromised patients who make up these facilities, it’s critical to maintain a highly sanitized and clean environment. Pests are the opposite: unsanitary and a risk to patients and staff.
In this blog, we’ll look at the following topics:
- Overview of Pest Management Challenges in Clinics and Healthcare Settings
- Identifying Common Pests in Healthcare Environments
- Implementing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Healthcare
- Preventive Strategies for Pest Control
- Training and Involvement of Healthcare Staff
Overview of Pest Management Challenges in Clinics and Healthcare Settings
When pests aren’t spreading disease-causing pathogens, they’re damaging the interworkings of a building’s structure. No matter what, you don’t want to have pest problems that put people at risk.
It’s challenging to prevent and eliminate pests in such large commercial buildings. With all the foot traffic and entry points, there’s no doubt your facility is at risk. With regular pest control specializing in healthcare buildings, you can relax knowing that the experts are on it to prevent and exterminate pests.
Identifying Common Pests in Healthcare Environments
Types of Pests Found in Clinics and Healthcare Centers
Healthcare facilities attract pests comfortable enough to be in the same vicinity as humans but sneaky enough to stay hidden. Many of these building types have commercial or private kitchens, storage rooms, and numerous hiding places. The most common pests you’ll find in clinics and healthcare centers tend to be the trickiest to get rid of, including:
- Bed Bugs
Health Risks Posed by Pests in Medical Facilities
It’d be nice if the primary issue were that pests are visually unappealing, but this isn’t the case. Pests like rats and roaches can carry and spread diseases across a hospital, putting patients and staff in danger. Others, like bed bugs, can infest entire wards, living in the sheets and comforters of beds and couches.
Even pests that don’t carry diseases threaten safety. Termites don’t suck blood, and they’re not known to transmit any diseases, yet, they’re known to cause more than $5 billion in property damage annually.
Implementing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Healthcare
Principles of IPM in Medical Settings
Especially in a medical setting, you don’t want to put sick, potentially immunocompromised people at risk of inhaling pesticide applications. Integrated pest management (IPM) is a form of pest control that uses EPA-approved methods and tools to eliminate pests. The core principles of IPM are to minimize harsh chemical use and prioritize preventative measures.
An integrated pest management plan does this by:
- Using barrier methods to prevent pests’ access to the facility
- Eliminating food, water, and shelter sources that attract pests
- Exterminating existing pests in the facility
Tailoring IPM to Specific Needs of Clinics and Healthcare Centers
“Healthcare center” is a broad term that encompasses many establishments. How you go about pest control for a state hospital will be different from a senior living facility. IPM experts consider the environment they’re treating and base their plan around the safety of the people and building.
Preventive Strategies for Pest Control
Importance of Sanitation and Hygiene in Pest Prevention
Pests love dirt and clutter. A garbage filled with decaying food or a storage room with cardboard box piles provides the perfect environment for food and shelter. When you take these things away, it reduces the allure of your facility for pests.
Consider the following practices:
- Sweep, mop, and vacuum to eliminate debris.
- Dispose of garbage in securely sealed bins and avoid keeping dumpsters close to the building.
- Close cracks and crevices in walls, windows, and doors
- Use airtight containers when storing food and medical products.
- Examine incoming shipments for indications of pests before bringing them indoors.
- Trim vegetation surrounding the facility’s perimeter.
- Educate staff members on appropriate food and equipment handling
Structural Modifications to Deter Pests
Along with deterring pests, you also want to physically prevent them from entering your building’s premises.
This includes using barrier methods like the following:
- Fill in any openings in walls, floors, doors, and windows.
- Add door sweeps to stop pests from getting in underneath doors.
- Use screens on vents to block another entry point.
- Plant pest-deterring herbs like rosemary, lemongrass, chrysanthemums, and citronella around the building.
- Swap plastic bags with containers to prevent pests from chewing through and accessing food and items.
Training and Involvement of Healthcare Staff
Educating Staff on Pest Awareness and Prevention
You can promote a pest-free environment in healthcare facilities by encouraging staff to stay hyper-vigilant with daily hygiene practices such as sanitizing equipment, properly storing food in plastic containers, and taking proactive measures like frequent cleaning of trash receptacles, cleaning spills, and disposing of food properly.
Protocols for Reporting and Responding to Pest Sightings
Educate your staff on recognizing the signs of pests and reporting these promptly. Having a group mentality for pest control helps reduce the risk of pest issues progressing.
Some of the primary indicators to look for include:
- Droppings, especially around food packages and the kitchen
- Sounds of rustling in the walls or floorboards
- The smell of ammonia
- Holes in walls and floors
- Nesting material, shredded paper, fabric, plant matter, etc.
- Staff or visitors reporting bite marks
- Dead bugs
- Chew marks or holes in food containers and plants
- Eggs or larvae
- Buzzing or clicking sounds