Fletcher Allen Takes Steps To Prevent Bed Bug Problem

F O R  R E L E A S E:
Immediate (January 17, 2011)

C O N T A C T: 
Michael Carrese
Marketing and Communications

Fletcher Allen Takes Steps to Prevent Bed Bug Problem

(Burlington, VT)  — Fletcher Allen Health Care announced today it is asking patients and visitors for assistance in preventing the potential appearance of bed bugs in its facilities. 

"No bed bugs have been found in our inpatient units to date, but we know their presence is growing in Vermont and across the nation," said Dawn LeBaron, vice president for Hospital Services.  "We believe it is prudent at this point to enhance our existing preventive measures to minimize the chances of a problem developing."

Since February of last year, housekeeping employees have worked with a pest control company to monitor for bed bugs and have been trained in methods of prevention and detection. 

"The efforts of our staff have been effective but we want to do everything we can to stay ahead of this problem, and involving patients and visitors is necessary to achieve that goal," LeBaron said.

Bed Bug Prevention Policy:

  • Patients and visitors should only bring necessary items into the hospital.  Clothes, blankets, luggage, bags and other possessions that are not essential during a patient's stay should be left at home.
  • Items brought to the hospital should be placed in plastic or paper bags.
  • Inpatients will be asked if they are currently in contact with bed bugs or have been exposed to them in the recent past.
  • If the answer to either of those questions is yes, belongings and clothing will be decontaminated with a short duration heat treatment and returned.
  • If visitors are currently in contact with bed bugs, we ask that they not come to the hospital if possible.

"It is important that people are forthcoming with hospital staff in discussing their exposure to bed bugs. Without this cooperation, our efforts to control these insects will be weakened," said LeBaron.

Additionally, the following practices are being implemented by environmental services employees:

  • Routine inspections of common bed bug habitats such as mattress seams, drawers, closets, and the backs of wall hangings. 
  • All linens will be checked for signs of bed bugs when changing beds.
  • Bed bug traps will be placed in vacant patient rooms as well as rooms where people have previously complained of bites, if and when that occurs.

These measures were developed in consultation with pest control experts and other health care organizations that have experience combating bed bugs.

Key Facts About Bed Bugs

  • Bed bugs do not pose a public health threat, but they can cause skin irritations and other minor problems.
  • The presence of bed bugs is not related to the cleanliness of a person's surroundings.
  • Anyone can "pick-up" bed bugs and unknowingly carry them on clothing or other items.
  • Their small size (adults are about the size of a tomato seed) makes them difficult to detect.

About Fletcher Allen
Fletcher Allen Health Care, together with our partners at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, is Vermont's academic medical center.  Our mission is to improve the health of the people in the communities we serve by integrating patient care, education and research in a caring environment.  Fletcher Allen serves as a regional referral center -- providing advanced care to approximately one million people in Vermont and northern New York -- and as a community hospital for approximately 150,000 residents in Chittenden and Grand Isle counties.  With more than 30 patient care sites and 100 outreach clinics, programs and services throughout the region, Fletcher Allen is committed to being a national model for the delivery of high-quality academic health care for a rural region.  For more information about Fletcher Allen, visit our Web site at www.fletcherallen.org .