The COVID-19 pandemic raised the already high expectations about the cleanliness of our healthcare facilities in the minds of patients and their families. Likewise, your employees’ safety concerns likely reached an all-time high as they worked to meet the challenges and endure the risks associated with their jobs. With a new level of scrutiny on every aspect of facility cleanliness weighing on perceptions, it’s important to step up all your facility maintenance programs to ensure both patient and employee satisfaction.
While you undoubtedly escalated your sanitation standards at the onset of the pandemic, have you adjusted your pest control programs to meet those new standards? Admissions, visitation, and operations may have changed, but did those changes open the door to new pest pressures? Pest presence can plant a seed of doubt in both the quality of care in your facility and in your employees’ sense of satisfaction.
Your topmost concern is the potential health threat that come along with pests. Vector pests – those that carry and transmit infectious diseases – pose the most serious risk. From the tiny mosquito to the more noticeable rodent, these invaders go beyond nuisance to actual public health concerns because they can spread harmful viruses and bacteria. The same is true of cockroaches and flies. Patients and their families will be troubled by anything that could complicate recovery. For employees who have always faced risk in this industry, they want reassurance that every measure is being taken to keep their working environment as safe as possible.
For both your patients and employees, pests have a negative influence on the perception of cleanliness. Even with stringent cleaning standards, pests can slip through the cracks, and bed bugs can hitchhike in on anyone walking into your building. Because pests often coexist with less-than-sterile conditions, assumptions will be made that those are the conditions of your healthcare facility.
Here are some ways to reinforce your program to help make sure you’re denying pests the opportunity to sour the opinions of those who matter most.
- Assess your surroundings: The environment around your facility can entice pests. Maintain landscaping to minimize places that pests can hide or use as a bridge into your facility, keeping a two-foot buffer between vegetation and your building.
- Secure entrances: For pests, ways in go well beyond doors. Work with your maintenance team to tighten up the exterior, especially cracks low to the ground that pests could slip through. Positive airflow can also help by pushing air out and thwarting flying pests.
- Inspect what’s incoming: Another way invaders can breach your defenses is through your supply delivery. Eliminate cardboard pileups that could harbor or attract insects like cockroaches.
- Monitor high-risk areas: Where there’s food, water, and a hiding place, pests will make themselves at home. A combination of sanitation protocols and careful attention can help with early detection. Focus on the areas that can draw pests like waste disposal, bathrooms, drains, food prep areas, and common areas where people gather.
- Update protocols: In the ever changing climate we live in, whenever you put an updated protocol in place, be sure to meet with your sanitation team, facility manager, and your vendors including your pest control provider. That way, they are always aware of your current rules and can adapt to them as well.
If you’re looking to protect everyone in your facility don’t try to tackle the challenge alone. Bring in an expert in all aspects so you will always have someone focusing on the best way to approach their expertise but also meet as a team. You may be surprised by how the HVAC person and the pest control person can help each other be more effective. Don’t let oversights be the reason for low morale in your healthcare facility.