Best Practices in Pest Control: Glens Falls Hospital
Shifts from a Reactive to Proactive Program
Glens Falls Hospital is the sole, comprehensive, acute-care community hospital serving a 2,600-square-mile, predominantly rural region of upstate New York. Prior to 2006, Glens Falls Hospital had spent five years using three different pest control providers, all of whom focused on reactive solutions to pest problems. The results disappointed the environmental services team, especially because each new pest issue yielded the same response – another chemical treatment. Glens Falls Hospital decided to implement a more proactive pest management program to reduce pest presence and pesticide use at the same time.
About the Initiative
In August 2006, the 410-bed Glens Falls Hospital partnered with Orkin Commercial Services to implement a comprehensive Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program based on the model recommended by Health Care Without Harm and consistent with the IPM recommendations of the American Society for Healthcare Environmental Services (ASHES) and Practice Greenhealth (formerly Hospitals for a Healthy Environment, H2E).
Unlike traditional pest control methods, which rely mainly on the use of pesticides, IPM is a holistic approach that uses chemicals as a last resort. IPM programs strive to eliminate food, water and shelter sources, elements necessary for pests’ survival, through preventive and non-chemical methods like sanitation and facility maintenance.
Glens Falls Hospital and Orkin began by conducting a thorough inspection of the facility to identify the five pest-activity zones, including pest entry points, water sources, food sources, harbourage points and staff areas. The inspection also reviewed potential problem areas, and Orkin recommended a variety of facility maintenance and sanitation tips to help prevent pests. By emphasizing non-chemical strategies to keep pests out, Orkin and Glens Falls Hospital help minimize the need for routine application of traditional pesticides.
The pest management strategies at Glens Falls now encompass a variety of environmentally friendly options. For example, the hospital uses organic pest management products within hospital walls and non-chemical fly lights inside entrances to help prevent flies from accessing sensitive areas of the hospital.
Glens Falls Hospital also welcomed the integration of thorough and accessible pest management service documentation, a key part of the IPM process that the hospital lacked previously. Orkin and Glens Falls Hospital manage all documentation in a secure, on-site workstation that contains up-to-date service reports, material safety data sheets, corrective action reports, pesticide usage logs and other service records. Hospital employees are encouraged to submit Pest Sighting Memos (PSMs) into a slot in the work station to document any pest activity that occurs between service visits. This allows for more targeted and timely follow-up.
Another key improvement was the implementation of Orkin’s an electronic pest management reporting system. During service visits, Orkin’s Pest Specialist uses an electronic handheld device to capture real-time data while on-site and feed it automatically into a central database. This allows Orkin and Glens Falls to generate comprehensive reports of treatments conducted in every room, chart pest activity trends, and capture any recommended corrective actions needed.
Glens Falls ceased room-to-room spraying and reduced staff calls regarding pest problems to virtually none. Glens Falls Hospital and Orkin’s partnership helped the facility earn an “H2E Partner” designation from Practice Greenhealth.
IPM is an ongoing process, not an overnight solution. Implementing an IPM program takes time, especially when facing active pest problems in the facility. IPM does not require significant additional budget and is usually more cost-effective over the long term since IPM programs are so successful at preventing problems. An effective IPM program requires an open line of communication with your pest management professional, particularly when changes occur that could affect pest pressure on the facility. You will need to establish a communication protocol between environmental services, facility maintenance, facility management and the service provider, as all of these parties need to be in sync for best results. Finally, because successful IPM programs rely on team cooperation, additional training to teach employees about their roles in the IPM process may be required.
The biggest challenge of adopting an IPM program is staff cooperation, but it is fundamental to IPM that employees play an active role in keeping pests outside where they belong. Coordinating efforts throughout the entire facility can be difficult, and may require specific and recurring IPM training. Fortunately, a number of IPM training resources are available from ASHES and Practice Greenhealth to help you in this regard. Work with your staff to assign roles so everyone is responsible for a portion of your pest management program. Identify key staff members to lead the various segments of your program and enlist others to provide ongoing support.
Advice for Colleagues
It is important to create an IPM program specifically for your facility. Not only does this approach offer a long-term solution to pest prevention, but the reduction of chemical use offers a better solution for patients, employees and visitors. The initial time and labor invested in an IPM program is well worth it. Efforts will yield future long-term rewards in reducing pest pressure, pesticide usage and pest complaints.
Glens Falls Hospital continues to reach its goal to keep pests out before they can cause a problem. The facility measures its success by the number of staff calls received to report pest sightings. According to the Director of Housekeeping and Laundry, the hospital reduced calls and minimized the number of pest sightings. Glens Falls continues to work with Orkin on an ongoing basis to implement IPM practices throughout the facility for best results.
Director of Environmental Services
Glens Falls Hospital