Bed bugs trouble addiction treatment center in Secaucus, NJ

by nobugsonme on December 21, 2009 · 4 comments

in bed bugs, bed bugs in the workplace, hospitals, new jersey

The Straight & Narrow addiction treatment center, based at the Meadowview Psychiatric Hospital in Secaucus, New Jersey, is suffering from chronic bed bug problems.  The Jersey Journal tells the story today of one woman who fled the 28-day program on day 15, because she did not want to live with bed bugs.

The resident called The Jersey Journal about the problem.

Reached by phone, David Mactas, executive director of Straight & Narrow, said the building occasionally gets bed bugs, but an exterminator has a standing contract to visit the site as soon as a problem is reported. “I’m not sure we’ll ever have a month where we don’t see a bed bug, we’re doing the best we can. We always feel bad,” Mactas said. “If we get a report, the exterminator is out right away.” Hudson County Spokesman James Kennelly said the county Department of Health and Human Services was unaware but will now investigate.

[Emphasis mine.]

Since a client can bring bed bugs into a treatment center (or other medical facility) on any given day, it’s impossible to keep them entirely free of bed bugs.

On the other hand, if a facility is “seeing a bed bug” every single month, this may not be a case of someone bringing a bed bug in, the pest control company coming in and killing it, and a new bed bug being brought in the next month.

Since most traditional spray treatments take more than one visit, calling the pest control company in and getting a single treatment only when a bed bug is spotted (if that is accurate) is probably not the best approach.

Treatment centers with chronic bed bug problems may need to take additional steps once the problem is solved, such as not allowing residents to bring in pillows, blankets, bedding or stuffed animals.  (I’m not sure if that’s an issue in this facility, but it is at many hospitals, birthing, and sleep centers.)

And until the problem is solved, residents should be sent home with all clothing freshly dried on hot and sealed in plastic bags, with luggage left at home. (Non-clothing items should be minimized as much as possible.) Because the last thing someone newly sober needs is to deal with a bed bug infestation they bring home with them from the treatment center.

1 victorypest January 5, 2010 at 4:10 pm

This is a very unfortunate situation there in Secaucus, and when working in a healthcare setting the pest control company has to be extremely diligent in finding where the source is by using an Integrated Pest Management system. Our company employs a minimal chemical approach unless necessary, and we must be even more careful doing so in healthcare centers.

Here in New Jersey, we are currently taking advantage of freezing temperatures by suggesting that some clients, where there is heavy flow of persons coming in, can maintain a safe area where possesions like pillows/blankets/clothing can FIRST sit in freezing conditions for several hours before being introduced into the building. It is effective, and as long as you can guarantee that the persons belongings are sitting somewhere safely they usually dont object.

2 nobugsonme January 5, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Hi victorypest,

Freezing temperatures are tricky and take much longer than people may think.

Dr. Michael Potter covers that, in the article from January’s 2007 PCT Online entitled “Killing them Softly”:

Dr. Michael Potter wrote, in the article from January’s PCTOnline:

In colder climates, freezing might be a way to de-infest furniture and other belongings. Bed bugs and their eggs can be killed by very low temperatures, but it is difficult to achieve them without using a deep freezer. Temperatures below 0°F (-18 C) for one to two weeks are generally believed to be needed to reliably kill all life stages. Fluctuating winter temperatures which often extend above this level are probably less effective and are currently being studied by Dr. Steven Kells at the University of Minnesota. Overall and throughout much of the country, heating tends to be a faster, more reliable option than chilling.

Entomologist Lou Sorkin froze bed bugs. He has a seriously cold freezer. This is what he said:

“I had them in a freezer at -29dF (-34 C) for 4 hours and some 1st instars lived. But [in] 5 days they also died.”

The bottom line is that your clients are not reliably killing bed bugs in an afternoon in freezing temperatures.

Quarantining personal items in a thermal environment, on the other hand, would kill all bed bugs, nymphs, and eggs present.

The above quotations are also referenced in our FAQ on freezing temps and bed bugs.

3 victorypest January 6, 2010 at 10:30 am

Nobugsonme, I am certainly not suggesting that people start leaving their laundry on fire escapes or anything, and neither am I saying that we feel that this is the optimum process because its not. Without question you need extreme cold and lots of time for the freezing. In some instances where there are not many resources this has helped to a certain extent. Would I guarantee freezing and nothing else? I wouldnt. Thanks for your reply!

4 nobugsonme January 6, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Thanks, victorypest.

It certainly can’t hurt!

But it would be great to see facilities like this put in a small “thermal room” so they really could guarantee items brought in (not on the person) are bed bug-free.

It would probably save money in the long run. That said, until clients are seeing big losses and repeated infestations, I imagine it’s a hard sell.

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