Essentially eradicated in the West for 40 years, bed bugs have returned, and they’re more difficult to kill than ever. They’re here in south-central Indiana, too. Bed bugs have been reported at the Courtyard Inn in Columbus and at least nine hotels and motels in Bloomington. In a Monroe County survey taken a few years ago, half the companies that responded reported having to deal with bed bugs, and 69 percent of them thought problems with bed bugs were increasing. The increasing number of bed bugs means that hospitals and other medical facilities will have to — or have begun to — address bed bugs, as well.
Why Hospitals Must Address Bed Bugs
Bed bugs don’t transmit diseases, so they don’t pose a major health risk. That, of course, doesn’t mean staff in hospitals and other medical institutions are unconcerned about them because bed bugs pose a psychological toll. Their bites itch and can blister. In some cases, the bites can get infected. What’s more, early data from researchers suggests a connection between the presence of bed bugs and symptoms of PTSD. People who live with bed bug infestations develop insomnia and emotional distress.
Hospital patients are already uncomfortable, so ensuring their comfort is a priority. Staff and medical personnel, too, will find bites distressing. They certainly will not want to take bed bugs home, either.
Bed bugs are also problematic at hospitals and medical facilities because their presence can serious damage the institutions’ reputation. Although the Indiana Health Department and other organizations have conducted campaigns to educate the public about bed bugs, myth and rumor remain. One difficult-to-dispel rumor is that unsanitary conditions cause bed bug infestations. (Research does show that bed bugs are attracted to dirty laundry, however.) If word got out, therefore, that a health facility housed bed bugs, people might think the facility uncleanly and not seek service there. Even if the public does not accept this myth, knowing there have been bed bugs at a facility might keep people away.
Regular Cleaning Isn’t Enough
It’s therefore important to develop a plan to treat bed bugs when they appear. Vigorous cleaning will not eradicate them. Although floors, furniture design, and medical equipment is designed for easy sanitation, bed bugs can fit in cracks as small as the width of a credit card. This means they can hide in plenty of places sanitizer won’t get to. And sanitizer will not kill bed bugs. Bed bugs also hide in soft materials such as mattresses, furniture, and drapes. They will also invade televisions, remote controls, and other electronic devices, such as call buttons and monitors by patient beds.
The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) suggests that hospitals and other medical providers plan ahead in case bed bugs show up in their facility. The organization specifically suggests implement a preventative plan in areas prone to infestations, including:
- psychiatric wards,
- waiting rooms,
- long-term care areas,
- overnight stay areas,
- maternity wards, and
NPMA also suggests hospitals and medical offices begin training staff to handle infestations and promote awareness about the insect. Furthermore, NPMA warns against the overuse of pesticides. Besides health issues associated with these chemicals, bed bugs have been growing more resistant to pesticides, so the chemicals may not kill them.
Difficulties Treating Bed bugs in Health Environments
Dealing with bed bugs in commercial and health environments is difficult on a number of fronts. For one, modern architectural designs often include high ceilings and open floor plans. Many rooms in hospitals are quite large, too. These design concepts can make it difficult to treat bed bugs using heat. (Heat is one of the least costly and simple methods of killing bedbugs.) Hospitals and similar institutions also have to deal with the fact that people are constantly coming and going through all areas of the building — and potentially spreading bed bugs.
To prepare for an infestation and to respond to it quickly, hospitals and medical professionals should get in contact with a pest management service that offers a variety of methods to kill bed bugs and that will work with the company to develop a plan to kill the pests. Experienced professions know how to overcome the difficulties medical offices face. So, they can suggest which method of pest control will best eliminate an infestation.
If your hospital or medical institution would like to develop a plan with a local pest management company that offers 24/7 emergency service, contact Yes Pest Pros, located in Bloomington and Columbus, Indiana. Yes Pest offers fumigation, heat, and insecticide treatment for bed bugs. We can determine which method is most effective for a given situation.