In a space as sterile as a hospital, where even bacteria and viruses – that are not visible to the human eye – are disallowed, pests like cockroaches and rodents will hardly be allowed entry. Pests can be vectors of infection, which brings patients to hospitals in the first place.
Unlike most other facilities, hospitals have no low-traffic interval. Doctors, nurses, janitors, patients and visitors enter and exit the facility at all hours of the day, offering no window of opportunity that is exclusive to pest management.
Valencia Fernandes, Sub Editor, Clean India Journal spoke to two leading pest management experts to understand what is unique to their services for healthcare facilities, and why green solutions are the only way to go.
Pests usually gain access through various surfaces that enter the hospital premises through visitors, staff and other essentials entering the building. Hence, suitable preventative measures need to be set in place to ensure that the premises are fully sanitized and clean, and the various entry points form barriers to pest entry. .
Wet, moist and warm areas are most prone to pest infestation. Hence constant supervision of spots such as closed cabinets, drainage areas, cafeterias, lavatories and storage areas is needed to ensure there is no infiltration or breeding of pests such as rodents, cockroaches or other insects.
Food waste and used packaging materials attract pests. Hence, areas where these are stored need to be constantly monitored. Bed bugs can be easily carried on clothing of visitors and staff; fumigation and ozonising the premises regularly will help decrease this menace.
Some tips that pest managers offer to help keep hospital premises pest-free are:
- Find and eliminate the source of moisture in damp areas
- Food needs to be sealed in kitchen and cafeteria areas
- Regular cleaning needs to be carried out on the premises
- Dispose of garbage frequently and efficiently
- Ensure storage areas are dry and clean at all times
- Make sure that cracks and holes are sealed and maintained
- Do not let wooden structures rot or remain unattended
- Always keep a lookout for rodent droppings in areas such as storage areas and closets
- Ensure garden areas are trimmed and constantly supervised as these are easy breeding places for rodents
- Regular checks of kitchen and lavatory drains are important to prevent the breeding of cockroaches and rats
- Entry and exit points need to have sweeping doors to ensure no opportunity for pests to enter.
According to Ravi Kumar, National Head-India, Truly Nolen India: “Green solutions are a natural form of integrated pest management for hospitals that begin with a comprehensive inspection process. This activity identifies potential breeding points and conducive conditions that can lead to pest infestation issues. Thus, the use of eco-friendly insecticides when other measures are not adequate or practical, seems to be the best solution.”
Kumar points out that there are two pillars of green solutions that are observed in healthcare facilities:
Integrated pest management
A careful consideration of different techniques including biological control, mechanical control and exclusion helps sustainable pest management programs in healthcare units.
Define the hospital in three major zones: Green (outer peripheral), Yellow Zone (entry points of buildings) and Red Zone (inside premises like OPD, OT, ICU, CCU, etc.). No direct application of pesticides is allowed in the red zone area. Major service has to be carried out in the green zone and yellow zone to provide hassle-free service and to avoid any hazards.
The following points are considered when a green solution is supervised at hospital facilities:
- Inspection: Look for pest activity, sighting infestation access, and food sources.
- Identification: Identify the pest before the area can be treated. To identify a pest, one needs to know which group it belongs to.
- Determination: To determine the best course of action, one needs to know the pest biology and service protocol.
- Control/Prevention: What does a pest need to survive and how can it be prevented from accessing that?
- Communication: What did the pest control operator find? What was done based on the biology of the pest and why? What are the hospital’s needs?
Concludes Kumar, “Green solution is about reducing the use of numerous chemicals and providing target-based services that provide customised services to hospital facilities.”