Pest Control in Long-Term Healthcare
I think we can all agree that visiting any Hospital or Long Term Healthcare Facility (LTC) is somewhat stressful. For many years I visited both my grandparents at a Toronto, Ontario LTC home. It was always an emotionally exhausting visit!
The level of service, workforce and expectations from the government has changed drastically over the last few years. Add COVID-19 into the mix and everyone is overworked, underfunded and the list of issues goes on and on. With so much focus on day to day operational issues pest control and pest prevention has taken a back seat.
From a Pest Control perspective one thing hasn’t changed – LTC, Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Facilities, Hospitals, Clinics and Doctor’s Offices should have NO Tolerance for pests. Simply, pests are major vectors and transmitters of disease. Rodents can chew wires that start fires or cause major IT issues. Pest are nasty and wreck things, especially when they get into network rooms or underground wiring. I think you get my point; pests and healthcare facilities don’t mix.
HIRING A COMPETENT PEST CONTROL COMPANY
– THE GREENLEAF WAY….WAY BETTER –
When it comes to pest control in healthcare facilities, one strategy or program doesn’t fit all. Each facility is different, and different environments feature different pest issues, client expectations and structural challenges. Due diligence is very important.
Let me be clear – Most of the time failure occurs because facilities award the work to the lowest bidder. At GreenLeaf Pest Control in Toronto, we assess the needs of facility/partners and price them according to the proper time to service (TTS). The more TTS the pest control technician has, the better the service. More proactive inspection and investigation time = less pest problems and a safer environment for staff, patients and guests.
At GreenLeaf we like to make things simple. We approach each facility systematically and break up each area into smaller components to make it more manageable. A scope of work and solution plan is based on our findings and TTS. For example: All food areas, QSR’s and kitchenettes will require more visits and more time to service. We group those areas into one category. Mechanical rooms may go into another category based on time to service and the clients needs.
WHAT THE HECK IS IPM
Adopting a least toxic and non-toxic Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan is paramount in any healthcare facility. According to Purdue University LINK: https://www.extension.purdue.edu/ipm/ipm1_4.html the four key elements of IMP are:
- IPM strategies reduce or eliminate the conditions pests need to survive and reproduce, including water, food, and living space.
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM) uses monitoring techniques to quickly identify pest infestations, before pest populations get out of hand.
- IPM resolves pest problems by eliminating pest access, removing pest resources, or using carefully targeted, “least risk” pesticide products.
- When IPM practitioners use pesticides, they apply them in a way that maximizes their impact on pest populations while minimizing the risks of human exposure.
PROACTIVE, PREVENTATIVE PEST CONTROL
I believe that IPM sounds reasonable and is the right pest prevention system to implement. Remember these words of wisdom – you get what you pay for. Many, many times, pest control services are sold inexpensively and quality of service suffers. Clients then cancel service and expect better service from another provider at a lower price. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way; Time to Service costs money.
DAY OF SERVICE
During the regular scheduled pest control service visits (with the right time to service) the trained pest control technician will monitor the facility for the presence of pests and conducive conditions that are favourable for pests. Ants and cockroaches are the most common pests found in healthcare facilities, according to a 2013 survey of Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE) members, and all pests pose unique threats.
HIGHER RISK PESTS
The common housefly, Musca domestica, lives in close association with people all over the world. These insects feed on human foodstuffs and wastes where they can pick up and transport various disease agents. In addition to the housefly, a number of other fly species have adapted to life in human settlements, where they present similar problems.
Cockroaches can pick up and transfer harmful bacteria. In certain situations, ants can as well. Cockroach droppings and cast skins can aggravate allergies and even cause asthma attacks, especially in children and sensitive individuals.
Rats and Mice
Rats and mice can also cause serious health problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rodents are known to spread bacteria like Salmonella and Escherichia coli, as well as more than 35 diseases worldwide, such as hantavirus.
A single female bed bug, which feasts exclusively on blood meals, can lay up to 300 eggs in a lifetime, hatched nymphs can become reproductive several months later. Bed bug bites can cause minor to complex skin reactions and, in some cases, psychological concerns. While often linked to multifamily housing and the hospitality industry, bed bugs have become a growing concern in many types of healthcare facilities.
Not only can many pests spread dangerous bacteria that can cause diseases, but also patients with weakened immune systems in healthcare facilities face a greater risk of infection.
I think this goes without saying; communication is paramount in a healthcare facility. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done. Pest Control Technicians often arrive to perform services during off peak hours. On occasion Management is not available to discuss ongoing issues with their servicing technician. Can you believe they have other priorities other than meeting with us?
I believe that a picture is worth a thousand words. In 2008 GreenLeaf invested heavily in electronic data technology. Unfortunately, we may not always see our designated point of contact (e.g. facility manager or sanitation manager) in person at every visit. Having said that, our GreenLeaf PestPac software allows us to barcode and scan every device that we touch and report this information back to the management team. Data such as pest captures, activity, areas serviced, time to service, material usage, sanitation issues and so much more is provided at every service. One of the greatest features is that the technician can take a picture and attach it to the service report. These reports are then emailed to the client immediately. GreenLeaf believes in complete transparency – service reports are available at your fingertips, anywhere at any time and on any device.
As Pest Control Professionals it is a big responsibility to protect healthcare facilities against the many structural pests that try to get in. A diligent, step-by-step IPM approach is the key to success. Regular inspections, proper time to service and communication. When quality matters, and people trust GreenLeaf.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Mackie aka Mr. Know Bugs is the VP – Quality Assurance at Greenleaf Pest Control. With over 24 years in the pest protection industry, Mackie is a Toronto, Bradford, Barrie and York Region pest control expert. Daniel Mackie is well-known as an industry go-to guy, an innovator of safe, effective pest control solutions, because he is a regular guest on HGTV. In his free time, he is an avid gardener and beekeeper. According to Mackie: “We are Protectors of Public Health”