Why Your Healthcare Facility Needs Pest Control
Hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics, and other types of healthcare facilities are among the cleanest facilities you can find – or so we hope! Any business offering healthcare services is typically held to a higher standard of cleanliness, as compared to other types of commercial facilities. Unfortunately, unsanitary conditions caused by pests can create a host of problems when trying to care for patients. Which is why pest control in healthcare facilities should be high-priority and never considered to be optional. Without proper sanitation and careful preventative maintenance, healthcare facilities are highly vulnerable when it comes to a potential pest infestation. In this post, we’re sharing the best pest control methods for the healthcare industry, from the most common pests found in these types of facilities to prevention tips that will keep unwanted pests at bay.
Entry Points for Pests in Healthcare Facilities
There are hundreds of ways pests can find their way into a healthcare facility. Hospitals and healthcare facilities are usually operating inside of large buildings with high amounts of foot traffic that allow pests to find different entry points and make their way inside.
- Immediate surroundings. Patients, staff, and employees who are constantly going in and out of the facility can unknowingly bring hitchhikers with them. Pests, such as bed bugs and rodents, travel by attaching themselves to your clothing, travel bags and purses, packages, and other personal items.
- Doorways. With so much foot traffic, doors and other entry points may be left open for prolonged periods of time, giving pests more opportunities to find a way into your building.
- Poorly functioning plumbing and ventilation systems. Rodents not only live, but thrive, in sewer systems and will rapidly reproduce within the confined walls of your healthcare facility’s building. Other pests, such as cockroaches will also use plumbing and ventilation systems to access your building and can go years without ever leaving the system’s pipes.
- Entry points caused by damage on the roof or building’s exterior. Weather damage, wood-damaging pest infestations, wildlife nests, and so on can all cause damage to your building’s roof and exterior. Even the smallest of openings is enough for most pests to get through.
Pests That Pose a Threat to Healthcare Facilities
The most significant reason why pest control is required in healthcare facilities is simply because pests are filthy. Pests are unsanitary and disease-ridden, and can expose health-compromised patients to contagious disease and bacteria. It goes without saying that people go to the hospital to be cared for and to heal – not to get sick. Take a look at the most common types of pests found in hospitals and healthcare facilities. Pests pose a threat to all industries, not just healthcare. Learn more about how Killingsworth can cater pest control for your industry.
Rodents such as mice, rats, and squirrels are some of the most disease-ridden pests that may come in contact with your facility. Specifically, rodents can spread diseases and bacteria to humans via direct contact from bites, nests, and contaminated particles circulating in the air. As a healthcare provider, this can be worrisome as certain bacteria can worsen a patient's condition and put them in further risk. The list of rodent-spread diseases includes:
- Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome
- Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis
Unfortunately, preventing rodent infestations can be a difficult task as these pests are natural scavengers. Their behaviors are always dictated by their need to search for food. Because of this, rodents are commonly found lurking around kitchens and food prep areas, patient rooms (especially if food is left behind), along with maintenance and laundry rooms that serve as a source of water for pests.
Another common pest found in healthcare facilities is the Cockroach. Cockroaches carry 33 different kinds of bacteria, six types of parasitic worms, and seven other human pathogens — all risk factors that can harm a patient’s safety. Inside of healthcare facilities, these pests are typically found in break rooms, janitor closets, food service and vending machine areas, and drainage areas. Like mice and rats, they are nocturnal and therefore prefer to feed at night. This can make them somewhat difficult to track and control. What’s more, cockroaches multiply at an extremely rapid rate. On average, a female will produce around 150 eggs in her lifetime. So, if you spot one cockroach roaming around your facility, you can be sure that there’s more where that one came from. In addition to their extreme reproduction rates and abundance of potential diseases, cockroaches are also known to agitate asthma and indoor allergy symptoms, so it’s best to prevent them long before they find their way in.
A specific species of ant that can be threatening to healthcare facilities are the Pharaoh ants. Pharaoh ants are segmented, yellow-brown ants that carry diseases like salmonella and Streptococcus Pyogenes. This invasive species are particularly attracted to sweet drinks and food, food grease and oils, and dead insects. These ants can gnaw through most types of materials — including silk, rayon, and rubber goods like doctors gloves. Pharaoh ants are also extremely persistent and somewhat aggressive in terms of how far they’re willing to go in search of food. In hospitals, these ants have been found in I.V. glucose solutions, sealed packs of sterile dressing, soft drinks, water pitchers, and even surgical wounds.
Although flies seem harmless, they can actually be very dangerous to humans — especially those whose health is compromised. Flies carry over 100 types of disease-causing pathogens, on top of being extremely unsanitary. Fly diseases include E. Coli, Anthrax, Food Poisoning, Cholera, Conjunctivitis, and Typhoid fever. In healthcare facilities, these diseases can be spread through one of two ways: feces or vomit and even bites. When flies come into direct contact with surfaces they excrete bodily fluids that leave behind pathogens. However, flies are also known to bite humans, breaking the skin and transferring those pathogens transdermally. Whichever way you look at it, flies are not ideal for maintaining sterile environments.
Healthcare facilities, especially hospitals, typically have large, flat roofs that make the perfect nesting area for birds. Though birds probably don’t immediately come to mind when we think of pests, they still pose quite a large threat to healthcare facilities. Contaminated nesting materials and droppings left behind are what make these pests a threat to the safety and sanitation of hospitals. To learn more about our unique approach to pest and wildlife control download our free guide, The Killingsworth Way.
Pest Prevention Tips for Hospitals
1. Monitor their behavior
Using digital pest control, pest behavior can be monitored to control and prevent the spread of infestations of mice, rats, and cockroaches. Traditional methods of pest control offer no way of tracking the pests behavior, a key component for staying on top of and eliminating pest infestations. Digital pest control, such as our SMART system, is capable of tracking and analyzing rodents and cockroaches behavior to ensure successful elimination.
2. Close and monitor entrances wherever possible
A high traffic environment means lots of opening and closing doors. Try to monitor this activity by keeping doors closed as much as possible and designing them to keep out flying insects. Likewise, be sure to put screens on windows to prevent potential entry points for pests.
3. Inspect the building’s exterior routinely
Be sure to get your facility inspected by a professional at least once a year. Staying on top of damage can prevent issues from worsening and keep your facility protected against pests.
4. Keep an eye on your trash
All of these pests love human food and trash. Any access to food is enough to invite them in, so be sure to empty trash cans daily and keep them closed at all times. Making this known to your managerial staff can greatly reduce the chance of pests.
5. Store food items
Store all food items in sealed containers and ask patients and visitors to do the same. Food that isn’t stored properly is just begging for pests to come find it.
6. Keep surfaces clean
Not only do the dirt and germs on surfaces attract pests, they also allow diseases to spread. If a pest makes its way to a dirty surface, you can be sure it’s picking up those germs and spreading them throughout the rest of your facility. Proper cleaning can go a long way in keeping pests at bay.
Maintaining Healthcare Facilities the Killingsworth Way
Healthcare facilities are meant to cure diseases and sicknesses, not spread them. It’s easy to overlook pest control in places like hospitals and doctors offices, but it’s imperative to remain vigilant. Just one small entry point could end up being the cause behind a full-blown pest infestation. In today’s world, digital pest control and commercial disinfectant services are the standard when it comes to healthcare facility cleanliness. With SMART pest control, you can feel confident knowing our technology is eliminating pests behind-the-scenes and your patients will never have to know what’s lurking behind closed doors. To ensure sanitation is up to code, you may also consider our EnviroKlean Disinfection to instantly kill disease-causing bacteria. If you’re in need of digital pest control for your facility, look no further than Killingsworth Environmental. At Killingsworth, we use an environmentally friendly approach to manage the pests that can pose a danger to your facility through very specific service protocols. Once we have determined which services provide the greatest protection for your facility, we implement them with documentation and trend reporting for your records. Our response time is minimal and effective in addressing your concerns. To schedule your pest control service click the button below.
This content was originally published in 2019 and refreshed in 2020.