What does it mean to be a hospital facility using integrated pest management (IPM)? The answer to this question could be any number of responses: setting action thresholds for the building’s pests, active documentation and communication, favoring cost-effective measures for pest control, diminishing pesticide usage, etc. IPM programs succeed because they don’t favor one element but rather instill a culture focused on achieving all of the above.
The problem with starting a program is finding actionable items to help instigate this shift. Many strategies fail from the outset because of lofty goals, unrealistic expectations, or simply incorrect methods. IPM is an ongoing process that takes commitment and continual improvement to be effective, and this becomes imperative when applied to a hospital. In this blog installment, we highlight a few key steps to beginning an IPM procedure and how to lay the groundwork for future gains.
Survey Your Building
As a facility manager, you could probably draw a fairly accurate blueprint of your building without needing to think very hard. You know each wing, connecting corridor, entrance and exit like it was your own home. But have you considered this same structure layout from the perspective of an invading pest? Your perspective may change drastically when touring your facility alongside a professional.
A pest control professional can provide an overview of your building and how it relates to IPM, including key entrance points and applicable pest behavior. From this, your pest professional should realistically be able to draft an outline of inspection points and required action for your internal staff. Additionally, you can also determine the scale of your operation. Surveying the property will make it clear as to whether or not you require separate teams for the work involved.
Drafting a Plan
Based on the findings in your facility review, your next action item is to begin drafting a holistic document that outlines the basis of your strategy. This is where a pest control professional can be invaluable. The program is still in its infancy, so this first draft need not be exhaustive. It should, however, act as an infrastructure for future input from those performing the work and serve as the basis for instruction. Alongside a pest professional, you should begin outlining a few of these topics for your staff:
- What is IPM: How does IPM benefit a hospital? What are its basic tenets? Provide some successes across the country.
- Roles and assigned duties: delegate tasks specific to the areas of concern outlined during the hospital walkthrough.
- Pest identification: input and research from your contracted company on pests most likely to affect the building. This should include images, behavioral descriptions, action items, etc.
- Action items: specific to each pest, what happens upon discovery? Set action thresholds for each pest.
- Communication: how infestations should be communicated and who should receive this information?
- Documentation: how will employees document findings?
- Success metrics: what does a successful IPM program look like? Lower pest thresholds?
- Pesticides: which chemicals are acceptable in this environment? Which are not? Define all levels of tolerability and communicate with your pest control professional and internal staff.
- Cost savings? How are you going to document this?
- Identifiable goals: define at least five actionable goals that will help guide your employees.
Having a pest technician available as a consultant will greatly improve your documentation and help you conclude what the most meaningful items you’ll need to include in this knowledgebase. The most important element, however, is that it is specific to your hospital. This plan shouldn’t be something you download straight from the internet and attempt to enact.
After gathering your hospital’s first draft of a guide, you will need to review the materials with a smaller team appointed to begin the IPM trial period. During this phase, it’s best to keep personnel to a minimum – no more than 10 depending on the size of your building – before instituting a company-wide rollout, so as to find any logistical errors.
It’s important to have the facility manager speak directly to the documentation expected. While a pest professional should advise and be available for questions, actual implementation is a responsibility for the individual overseeing IPM’s operational functions. This person will lead all procedures and should thus act as the face of integrated pest management for the hospital.
The session doesn’t need to be a stuffy instructional meeting, but can act as a discussion forum among the team. Anyone with comments or suggestions to the document should be encouraged to provide input.
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