Sun | Dec 15, 2019

Leftover food from patients causing roach, rat infestation at hospitals … SERHA implementing urgent pest-control measures

Published:Sunday | August 11, 2019 | 12:45 AMNadine Wilson-Harris - Staff Reporter

The storage of leftover food by patients at both the Spanish Town and Kingston Public hospitals is being blamed for an ongoing battle administrators of the institutions are facing, as they try to control roach and rat infestation at health facilities.

President of the Jamaica Medical Doctors’ Association (JMDA), Dr Elon Thompson, said the plague of roaches at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) has created an uncomfortable, unhealthy environment.

“We have had that issue for a long time. There are wards where you see roaches running around regularly. I know that they have implemented things to counter them, but what is in place to prevent a recurrence of this issue? Have we looked at why we are having roaches running around?” he asked during a recent interview with The Sunday Gleaner.

“You have phases when it gets worse, then you have a time when it eases up, you don’t see any, and then you have another time when they come back.”

In June of this year, there were reports of a rat infestation at the Spanish Town Hospital.

Newly minted chairman of the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA), Wentworth Charles, said he was “disturbed” by these revelations, considering that SERHA has multimillion-dollar contracts with reputable pest-control companies.

“There is no doubt in my mind, as chairman of the board, that these contracts have to be reviewed, because the whole issue of pests overrunning hospitals should never have occurred,” he said.

But Charles said a major challenge in fighting the problem is the fact that patients often store food in cupboards or in a corner.

“Some people are storing food in a corner for dog food, I’m told, and that attracts rodents and other such vermin in Spanish Town and provides a challenge for vector-control personnel,” he said.

“This creates an environment for harbouring pests. Strict instructions have now been given that it [stored dog food] is to be removed.”

He said there has been a massive clean-up at the Spanish Town Hospital over the last two weeks.


“I have given instructions for the contract officers in SERHA to review, in a timely manner, the terms and conditions of the contract for people who provide the porter service, to ensure that the terms are followed and to report to the board in a quarterly manner what is the state of the hospitals,” said Charles.

“We have at our board meeting what we call an infection control report that we receive, and that report gives an indication of what is the state of the hospital. That has to be monitored in a timely manner to ensure that there is no repeat of what I saw in the paper at Spanish Town.”

In May of this year, a payment of $16 million was made to the contractors at Spanish Town Hospital, noted Charles, while outlining efforts to curtail the pest infestation at hospitals.

Short-term fumigation activities were carried out by a pest control company in June and July of this year at the Kingston Public Hospital.

“For long term, a three-year pest contract will be put in place for Spanish Town, KPH and VJH (Victoria Jubilee Hospital). This is at the procurement stage and should be in place by October 2019,” he disclosed.