The Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has ceased home health visits for a client while his home is treated for bed bugs. According to the Chronicle Herald:
The Victorian Order of Nurses has put home care on hold for a client living in a Halifax public housing complex because of bedbugs in his apartment, the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority said Wednesday.
“We did confirm with VON that they have put (service to) one client in Ahern Manor on hold because of bedbugs,” said Pat Lawrence, director of the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority, which oversees the Gottingen Street highrise.
“What I can tell you is when we got the report about the bedbugs, we did send our pest control company in right away. They fumigated there last Friday and they’re going in again today. They may have already been there just to re-inspect and to continue treatment if need be.”
When asked whether the bedbugs were confined to one or two apartments, Ms. Lawrence said the pests are a problem all over North America.
“What I guess I could say is . . . if we get a report, we immediately begin treatment,” she said. “We’ve tried to do education sessions, certainly, with our tenants and our staff about prevention and in treating bedbugs. It appears to me there are two apartments (with bedbugs) on the same floor, and we’re treating both of them.”
I am disturbed by this news item. Despite Victorian Order of Nurses official Dawn MacIsaac’s protests later in the article that VON is not “refusing to provide services or refusing to go into a home or that type of thing,” that appears to be what they are doing.
Service providers who visit people in their homes are unfortunately at risk of catching bed bugs.
What VON may not recognize is that they are also at risk of contracting bed bugs in homes where they cannot see obvious signs of bed bugs. Therefore, the organization needs to train its employees on how to take steps to reduce the chances of catching bed bugs — and to avoid taking them from one client to another.
And for cases like this one, humane treatment suggests finding a way to provide services to a person with an active bed bug infestation, whether that means getting him taken to another location for his normal treatment, or sending in nurses with Tyvek suits and training on avoiding bed bugs. The client with bed bugs is likely suffering physical and emotional repercussions of living with bed bugs, and in my opinion, now needs good health care from a friendly and supportive visitor more than ever.
I hope the VON gets assistance in creating a bed bug prevention plan from an entomologist who specializes in bed bugs.
I am glad that the client in question is getting pest control treatment, but I would hope the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority was not just treating those two units, but carefully inspecting the entire building, keeping in mind that bed bug infestations can be difficult to detect.