It is essential that hospitals and other health facilities never use toxic pesticides when trying to control pests. Pesticides such as organophosphates, carbamates and synthetic pyrethroid should never be applied where children, the elderly or people with compromised immune systems are. There are non-toxic methods of controlling all pests and that is what this report focuses on.

Pest Control in Healthcare

Health facilities professionals face numerous challenges to ensure that they meet the highest level of sanitation while caring for sensitive populations. Some pests can pose health threats through the spread of bacteria and contamination of surfaces, medical supplies and equipment, ensuring that the facility remains pest-free is one of these challenges. It is important to keep in mind that pesticides in these facilities are probably more dangerous than the pests.

The best way to prevent a pest problem is to understand how pests gain access, what pests are most problematic, where infestations are most likely to develop and how to prevent them.

There are generally two methods of pests getting into health care facilities; from the outside of the building, being brought in by visitors in clothing, food, flowers or other items. The first thing that maintenance staff should do is make sure all the doors close tightly and, if necessary, install door sweeps on all outside doors. Windows should be closed tightly and any screens in good repair. Any trees or shrubs that are touching the facility should be trimmed back to prevent pests from getting on the roof or side of the building. Any pipes penetrating outside walls, or cracks in the foundation need to be sealed.

Food brought in by suppliers is another good way for pests to get in. Make sure kitchen staff inspects all food deliveries for pests or signs of pests, such a droppings or damaged packaging or food. If food or anything comes in cardboard boxes, they should be broken down and disposed of immediately.

All stored food items should be kept on shelves and off the floor and away from walls. These food areas should be inspected periodically, at least weekly. It goes without saying that sanitation in the facility is very important.

The following areas are most likely to develop a pest problem in a health facility and need to be inspected closely on a regular basis. The areas are employee locker and break rooms, janitorial closets, laundry rooms, food service areas, restaurants, coffee and snack bars, vending machine areas, food carts, bedside furniture in patient rooms, floor drains and sink areas, intensive care wards, surgical suites, kidney dialysis rooms, autopsy rooms, trash dumpsters, loading docks and related spots.

The following pests are most likely to occur in a health care facility or almost any commercial building.

Cockroaches in health care

Cockroaches can occur in many parts of the hospital, but they can be prevented by the exclusion methods described above or by using non-toxic products in areas where they have been seen. The two main species that may be found are American roaches and Oriental roaches. German roaches usually comes in with food delivery. American and Oriental cockroaches both will take a bait made from boric acid. The bait is in granular form and should be placed anywhere that roaches may hide and won’t get swept up. In locker rooms, break rooms, laundry rooms, janitorial closets are good areas to put the bait. You can also put it in storage areas and shipping areas and all maintenance shops. The bait is effective for several months but should be inspected periodically to see if any dead roaches are present and then the bait should be replaced. German roaches will come in with delivery trucks, but probably not in large numbers. We recommend that the facility keep some German Roach Pheromone Traps on hand and place them in any areas where German roaches may show up. The traps will attract and catch the roaches, which then can be disposed of. If the problem still persists then, you should seek help of roach exterminator services in your area.

Ants sneak in everywhere

Most small ants, which are social insects, undoubtedly came in from the outside. Most of them will take baits which are far more effective than any spray pesticides. Boric acid baits can help. Place the bait wherever you see a few ants and it will attract many of them and eventually eliminate the colony. The only ant species that can be problematic is the pharaoh ants. This species is attracted to intravenous units and medical preparations. Never use any sprays for these ants as they are best controlled with baits as well.

Flies at the hospital

Flies can contaminate food and surfaces. Keeping trash receptacles closed and as clean as possible, removing trash frequently and keeping food areas clean and free of food debris go a long way in controlling flies. They can be found in almost every part of a health care facility, so sanitation is very important. It is all very important to keep outside trash containers and garbage disposal areas as clean as possible.

Sleeping with Bed Bugs

Bed bugs occasionally turn up in health facilities as they can be brought in with clothing or bedding.Although bedbugs are not considered vectors of disease, their bites can leave itchy, red welts and their presence can cause anxiety and sleeplessness. In some cases, patients also can experience a secondary infection caused by scratching at the bites and causing skin trauma, allowing for a port of entry for infection. Bed bug control is possible without using toxic pesticides but it does involve quite a bit of work.

Mouse in the health cars house

Mice can enter buildings through almost any opening or crack larger than a dime. Maintenance personnel should inspect for rodent droppings, especially in undisturbed areas like cafeteria pantries, storage areas and along walls. Rodents typically are found in laundry rooms, food service areas, food carts, loading docks and garbage disposal areas. Never use rodenticides for controlling rodents. Always use snap traps and bait them with a piece of Slim Jim and put the trap perpendicular to the wall with the bait close to the wall. If you use rodenticides and a rodent dies someplace where you can’t find it, it will create an odor problem and if the rodent has any ectoparasites such as mites or fleas, they will leave the carcass and can bite your patients or staff.

There are other pests that may occasionally come into a facility, but roaches, ants, flies, bed bugs and rodents are the most problematic. All staff should be educated on recognizing and reporting the presence of pests, no matter how minuscule a problem may seem. Whether it’s noticing rodent droppings or one cockroach in the kitchen, several ants in surgical or autopsy suites, a single bedbug or signs of one in a patient’s room or flies buzzing around garbage disposal areas — employees should recognize these as red flags for an underlying or potentially growing pest problem and report them to maintenance as soon as possible.

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