Bed bugs may bite anyone — staff, clients, or visitors. The bed bug problem at Bronx Psychiatric was reported by union members working at the facility.
In October, members of the Civil Service Employees Association Local 401 – the union that represents 567 nurses, housekeepers and maintenance workers at the hospital – spotted bedbugs at a nursing station and tracked the parasites to bedrooms in a ward, said Local 401 President Abraham Benjamin.
Local 401 filed a Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau complaint in November after Bronx Psychiatric had the problem treated room by room, rather than evacuating and treating the ward, Benjamin said. Union members reported bedbug bites.
Eventually, Bronx Psychiatric did evacuate and treat the infested ward, and the state labor department inspected the facility in February.
“The complaint was not sustained,” [State Office of Mental Health spokeswoman Jill Daniels] said.
But soon after the inspection, on Feb. 23, bedbugs were found in another ward, and more were found in yet another ward in last month, Benjamin said. Bronx Psychiatric acted fast to wipe out the parasites.
But it appears that the bed bugs were far from “wiped out” in the facility.
The report is that the bed bugs persist at this time, according to a second union, the Public Employees Federation, which represents the hospital’s psychologists, psychiatrists and secretaries:
“We recognize that management has been trying to correct the situation,” said PEF spokeswoman Darcy Wells. “But the situation has still not been corrected, so we’re concerned.”
While it’s true that bed bugs can be brought in by clients, visitors, or staff at any time, it appears this facility has had a persistent problem for some time.
The State seems to have a limited understanding of how bed bugs work, and how hard they are to treat, judging from this statement:
State Office of Mental Health spokeswoman Jill Daniels confirmed workers detected “preliminary evidence of bedbugs” at the center on three occasions, but said the hospital has a handle on the pests.
“In all cases, staff quickly addressed and eliminated the problem in the very early stages,” she said. “Impact on patients, visitors and staff was minimal.”
It does not sound like the problem was eliminated, but that it has sprung back repeatedly since October.
Since bed bugs only add to one’s anxiety, sleeplessness, and other health issues, it is terrible when they infest health facilities — and mental health facilities in particular.
I hope that the Bronx Psychiatric Center is able to take the steps needed to eliminate this bed bug problem and that they get good advice about how to quickly detect and eliminate bed bugs which will inevitably brought in going forward.