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Pest company called to St James's Hospital more than 100 times in last two years

Among the many different pests encountered on the hospital’s campus in recent times were ants, cockroaches, mice, pigeons, and woodlice.

90389373_90389373 The entrance to St James's Hospital in Dublin 8 Source: Sasko Lazarov

A PEST CONTROL company attended St James’s Hospital in Dublin 108 separate times to deal with recurrent 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 reveal.

Among the creepy-crawlies reported at the hospital during 2015 and 2016 were mice, ants, cockroaches and woodlice.

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

24988507944_4892c95a02_o A Black Clock beetle Source: AJC1

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 callout and attended a kitchenette located on a private ward, where they found a mouse “actively feeding off bait”. The little culprit was “caught and bagged and removed”, according to the inspection report.

Rodent sighting

Though the hospital declined to comment on the pest control issues seen, the increase may be related to ongoing works surrounding the construction of the new children’s hospital, which is expected to open on the St James’s campus by 2020.

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 who 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.”

shutterstock_575517079 Source: Shutterstock/nc clicks

Two days’ later, the pigeon appears to have been joined by a friend. “Two pigeons flying around atrium in MISA,” 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 discovered 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 at the hospital 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 locations including a dialysis room and on a bedside table.

More than €35,000 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.

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Darragh McDonagh

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