Almost 200 mousetraps have been placed around Gorge Road Hospital acute care and long-term care facility as the facility tries to tackle a persistent rodent problem.
Island Health says it can’t quantify the size of the problem and while there’s no acceptable level of mice in a health-care setting, the health authority says staff and patient safety are not being affected.
No one from Island Health was available for an interview.
Gorge Road Hospital, which originally opened in 1953, currently has 111 publicly funded beds, and provides long-term care services on the two lower floors of the four-storey building — the Water View Unit and the Arbutus View Unit.
Bridgeview on the third floor offers transitional care for patients waiting for long-term-care placement, while Skyview on the fourth floor is a low-intensity rehab unit for patients from Royal Jubilee, Victoria General, Saanich Peninsula, and Cowichan District Hospital.
Staff, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, say they have not seen similar infestations at other health-care facilities at which they have worked and regard the situation as “outrageous.”
They say a pest-control agency has been involved with the facility for years, and “mice are seen occasionally running around on the floor, patient rooms, staff room and heard in the walls.”
Titto Jose, manager of restorative health at Gorge Road Hospital for Island Health, told staff including doctors, nurses and administrators in a Jan. 13 email, obtained by the Times Colonist, that he’s received “several emails from staff about mice on site.”
“Currently there are approximately 180 traps at the site,” wrote Jose. “More traps will be added next week.”
Pest-control company Terminix will service the site two days a week, he said.
At the same time, housekeeping services, the department responsible for pest management, is “looking at getting the electronic sound system at the site to tackle mice,” Jose wrote.
Typically, ultrasonic pest repellers — an electronic device plugged into an electrical outlet or battery operated — emits a high-pitched sound or high-frequency vibrations that can discourage, kill, or incapacitate pests including mice. The sounds are supposed to be imperceptible to human ears.
The email to staff said infection prevention and control officials are monitoring patient safety, occupational health and safety officials are monitoring staff safety, and staff unions are in contact with administrators on the progress being made.
“Safety of everyone on the site is a high priority and we are using every tool in our arsenal to tackle this issue,” wrote Jose. “[We] really appreciate your patience, support and understanding to get through this situation.”
Last week, administrators reminded staff in an advisory to ensure food debris is cleaned up in patient rooms and dates, times and locations of any droppings seen are recorded in detail so traps can be set.
Island Health said in a statement that after receiving complaints of mice at Gorge Road last week, the health authority asked pest control contractors to investigate and reduce rodent access to the building, inspecting and sealing any exterior and interior entry points.
It said gaps around piping in patient rooms are being sealed this week and cleaning of areas where food is stored is being enhanced.
Monitoring and follow-up will continue as required, said the health authority.