Nursing homes, assisted living, hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics, and more – healthcare facilities come in all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, every one of them is susceptible to rodents due to the frequency of opening and closing doors, visitors coming and going, food prep areas, and deliveries. Rats and mice can damage food supplies and property, cause illness among patients and staff, ruin a facility’s reputation, and be a cause for accreditation issues.
Cross-contamination and high-risk factors
In rodents’ hunt for food, water, and shelter, they can contaminate human food served to patients whose immune systems may already be compromised. And as patients get moved to different rooms, the chances of cross-contamination increase exponentially.
Rats and mice can spread more than 35 diseases which can spread to patients through rodent feces, urine, and saliva. The diseases directly transmitted by rodents include the plague, Lassa fever, rat-bite fever, salmonellosis, and more. They are quickly passed along to humans through direct contact or eating food or water contaminated with urine, feces, saliva, hair, or simply breathing in germs from rodent urine or droppings that are in the air. To help keep your healthcare facility safe, it’s imperative for staff to:
- Clean up food and water sources in and near your facility
- Keep breakroom and cafeteria garbage in containers with tight-fitting lids
Safeguard Your Staff
It’s not just patients that are in danger when rodents are present. Your staff can also be at risk. And it’s not always evident that rodents have intruded, mainly because they are secretive and mostly active at night. If a staff member suspects that a rodent problem exists, it’s imperative to alert the others on staff. If one should be in a position to handle a rodent, both dead or alive, encourage wearing gloves, masks, and protective eyewear during the removal process. Better yet, reach out to a pest control professional to handle the situation.
Reputation is Everything
A healthcare facility’s reputation may be its most important attribute. Hospitals are more vulnerable than other organizations to public relations challenges because they treat patients daily.
In the era of social media, just one rodent, or even the hint of one, can make the news instantly. And what happens within your healthcare facility today can impact your facility’s reputation for years to come. Former patients can be your biggest cheerleaders or worst enemies – and what people say about your facility is essential.
Accreditation is a process allowing healthcare facilities to demonstrate their ability to meet regulatory requirements and standards. It’s a way for patients, staff, and the general public to measure a facility’s commitment to quality and patient care.
Healthcare facilities can lose their accreditation for several reasons and a rodent infestation is at the top of the list. Just one result of losing accreditation: many insurance companies and Medicare can deny payments on behalf of patients.
Healthcare facilities have many different areas that can be attractive to pests including patient rooms, exam rooms, lobbies, waiting rooms, hallways, restrooms, and dining spaces. Keeping every corner of the hospital rodent-free is imperative to patients, staff, and the overall wellbeing of a facility.
Do you suspect that your healthcare facility may have a rodent problem?
- In addition to looking for rodents themselves, inspect for gnaw marks, tracks, droppings, urine, and signs of nesting (collections of soft materials)
- Smell for rodent urine
- Listen for squeaks and rustling
Every healthcare facility is at risk for rodents. And even the cleanest of places can become the host to a variety of pests in high-traffic areas. If you’re looking to protect your healthcare facility from rodents, Western is here to help. Our free inspection provides insight into overlooked pest pressures because our technicians are trained to look for them. We’ll then create a customized plan that ensures you, your team, and your patients stay healthy, safe, and satisfied.