Let’s face it, one of the last places anyone wants to see a cockroach may be inside a hospital. Patients, visitors and hospital staff expect hospitals to set the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene. While cleanliness and good sanitation certainly play important roles in pest control, it’s a fact that cockroaches can invade even the most spotless and sterile locations, including hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
What risks do cockroaches pose to hospitals?
Cockroaches can be mechanical vectors for bacteria, including E. coli and Salmonella. Hospitalized patients may have compromised immune systems, which can make them particularly vulnerable to bacterial infections. Additionally, cockroaches may trigger allergens and allergy symptoms in some people.
The presence of cockroaches can also be detrimental to a hospital's reputation, potentially resulting in low patient satisfaction scores and tarnishing the facility’s perception among the public and healthcare professionals.
How do I know if my hospital has a cockroach problem?
Because cockroaches can establish infestations quickly and can be present in populations of hundreds or more, early detection is key. Cockroaches are nocturnal insects so infestations aren’t always easily apparent. If you see one roach, others are likely hiding nearby.
Besides spotting one, you may notice dead roaches near areas where they hide. You may also spot roach feces, which may look like tiny specks of pepper, brown stains, coffee grounds, or oval pellets, depending on the species of cockroach that is present.
Roach egg cases, or oothecae, are also signs of a cockroach invasion. Oothecae are usually oblong, brown casings that envelop eggs. When the eggs hatch, these casings are left behind, often in tight, protected areas like wall cracks and behind furniture. A very large cockroach infestation can also have a noticeably pungent, musty odor. This odor can get worse as an infestation progresses. Dead roaches may also cause an unpleasant smell as they decompose.
What can hospitals do to help prevent cockroach problems?
Cockroaches are relentless invaders and prolific breeders, but there are some steps that can be taken to help discourage them from infesting your facility:
- Have exterior cracks, crevices and holes sealed. Cockroaches can use their flattened bodies to squeeze through even very tiny openings. Some species can also enter buildings through sewers and drains.
- Clean spills immediately. Wipe up water around sinks and floors in patient rooms, bathrooms and break rooms. Cockroaches seek moisture, and even a few drops of liquid can be an attractant.
- Sweep up food particles and crumbs from patient rooms as well as dining and food service areas. Pay particular attention to areas underneath appliances, food carts, corners and floor cracks. Small specks of food can look like big feasts to cockroaches.
- Inspect deliveries, especially cardboard boxes, for all stages of cockroaches. If you find cockroach evidence in the boxes, then reject the delivery and return it to the distributor. You should also remove items from cardboard boxes before storing on the shelves and then discard the boxes.
- Empty garbage and clean the trash can daily, making sure that trash receptacles are tightly closed and positioned well away from hospital entrances.
- Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible, and install tight weather stripping, seals and door sweeps to help prevent cockroach entry.
- Clear out clutter, especially cardboard and paper, from cabinets, closets and storage rooms to remove potential hiding spots for cockroaches.
- Cockroaches thrive in warm and humid environments so make sure all areas of the hospital have adequate ventilation.
- Seek professional help from a commercial pest control company with experience in serving healthcare facilities. Terminix® Commercial has the proper knowledge and training along with the procedures and protocols required for hospital pest control. Get a free estimate and discharge cockroaches today.
Related: Three Common Pests Found in Healthcare Facilities