Tuesday 12 December 2017

Hospital called pest control 100 times over infestation

St James’s Hospital in Dublin spent €35,000 on pest control. Photo: Mark Condren
St James’s Hospital in Dublin spent €35,000 on pest control. Photo: Mark Condren

Darragh McDonagh

A pest control company went to St James's Hospital in Dublin more than 100 times to deal with recurring infestations of rodents, insects and other pests in the past two years.

Pest activity was reported in areas including a dialysis room, an endoscopy theatre, and on bedside tables in hospital wards, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act revealed.

Among the creepy-crawlies reported at St James's Hospital during 2015 and 2016 were mice, ants, cockroaches and woodlice.

Black clock beetles - large, carnivorous insects with sharp jaws - were also found by pest-control technicians in a specialised unit for patients undergoing bone-marrow transplants last August.

In 2015, the company attended St James's Hospital Sterile Services Unit (HSSU) four times in response to reports of rodents.

On one occasion, a mouse was caught in the HSSU kitchen, while another was suspected to have scuttled into an autoclave.

The pest-control firm was also called to the hospital's Breast Care Clinic four times during the two-year period in response to complaints that included a rodent in a staff tearoom, an infestation of flies in the reception area, and a "bad smell" in the clinic, which staff said was "a common occurrence".

Last October, the company responded to an emergency call-out and attended a kitchenette on a private ward where they found a mouse "actively feeding off bait".

The mouse was "caught and bagged and removed", according to the inspection report.

Towards the end of last year, a sighting of a rodent was reported in an endoscopy theatre at the hospital.

Traps were set and, three days later, a mouse was caught in the theatre's observatory room.

The company was also called to inspect droppings found in a cupboard beside an operating theatre.

"Old, very dried-up, dead woodlice" were found in the same location upon inspection.

On two occasions last August, stubborn pigeons that had entered Mercer's Institute for Successful Ageing (MISA) at the hospital refused to leave in spite of the pest control company's best efforts.

"Could not remove pigeon," the technician noted in his inspection report. "May leave eventually."

Two days later, the pigeon appears to have been joined by a friend.

"Two pigeons flying around atrium," it was reported. "Technician couldn't remove them due to height and area involved... Door left open to assist pigeons out."

In April 2015, two dead birds in a ceiling cavity were found to be the source of an infestation of bluebottles in a meeting room in the CEO building of the hospital. Insecticide treatment was carried out.

Ants were a recurring problem during the two-year period.

Up to 150 of the insects were found behind a locker in the Department of Clinical Nutrition, while others were found in different locations including a dialysis room and on a bedside table.

More than €35,000 plus VAT was spent on pest-control services by the hospital in the past two years.

This included an outlay of €275 in February 2016 for a plastic hawk to scare away pigeons and gulls.

A public relations company contracted by St James's Hospital was contacted for comment in relation to pest control at the facility.

It acknowledged the correspondence but did not provide a response.

Irish Independent

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