Bed bugs infest Cuyahoga Co. adult centers; is response appropriate?

by nobugsonme on November 27, 2013 · 4 comments

in bed bugs

Bed bugs, genitalia, and sticky tape.


Are you squirming in your seat yet?

Just wait, it gets worse…

(If video does not work, you can watch it on WOIO’s site.)

Arlene Sampson, a social worker, claims her boss ordered her to remove bed bugs from a sixty-something year old disabled man’s genitals using “highly adhesive” packing tape.

Sampson refused, and claims that as a result, she was recently fired from her job at the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities Adult Activities Center in Maple Heights, Ohio.

According to WOIO news,

Sampson told WOIO Chief Investigator Carl Monday that she was instructed to use highly adhesive packing tape to remove the bugs from the genitals of a man in his 60’s who frequents the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities Adult Activities Center in Maple Hts. The man has a chronic problem with bed bugs and was covered with open sores. She claims other workers at the facility have been using the unorthodox bed bug removal method on other clients for some time.

When she complained to her bosses, Arlene says she was fired for insubordination.

Kathy Biddlestone is the Infection Control Nurse for the CCBDD. She admits all of the agencies eight adult centers have bed bug issues, with Maple Hts. the worst of the bunch. But she insists the packing tape is only used to pick bed bugs off the floor. And not to remove the creatures from client’s private parts.

Perhaps that is true. Perhaps not. We have no way of verifying this.

On the other hand, the article notes the local protocols also stipulate that non-medical personnel, like Sampson, aren’t allowed to do physical exams of clients, and yet:

Audio of a disciplinary hearing involving Sampson includes a county official telling Arlene, “Everybody in that building, I guess except you, has checked this guy (for bed bugs) at one point in time.”

So the WOIO report suggests the rule about physical exams being done only by medical personnel isn’t being followed correctly, at the very least.

I don’t know if people are using packing tape to remove bed bugs from humans’ genitalia, which — if true — most certainly sounds abusive, but I do know this: if bed bugs are so severe that your clients are carrying them around on their bodies, that should be considered an unacceptable — if not abusive — situation in its own right. And some major action needs to be taken from multiple directions.

If mentally and physically disabled adults have bed bugs at home, they may need assistance with preparing for treatment and paying for it. They may need assistance determining the problem is present at home.

Who is going to provide such assistance?

If the centers are infested, and the clients’ homes are infested, this problem may simply be going back and forth and spreading ever further. Likewise, some clients will likely be kept home by well-meaning relatives, and miss out on services they need.

What a tragedy.

I hope the mentally and physically disabled clients of these adult centers are able to get help both at home (if needed) and at the day centers.

To put it in perspective, if a hurricane or tornado had whipped through and destroyed these private homes and day centers, help would be coming. Maybe we have to start thinking about bed bugs the way we do hurricanes and tornados — at least for the most vulnerable among us.

1 CarpathianPeasant November 27, 2013 at 10:51 am

Another case of not knowing and accepting there is a problem, assuming the media investigated dutifully.

I get a couple of hours of housekeeping help every week (can’t handle it all). I’ve been through four different agencies (more or less franchises of national incorporated companies — they have websites and locations online) which do both private service work and government contract stuff (which is what probably keeps them afloat as the women get paid about $10 an hour, and those contracts probably included services for both the disabled and the elderly). Few of the women last more than a couple of months as they tend to be kept at part-time status.

In about five years I’ve easily had a couple of dozen housekeeping assistants. On their first visit I mention bed bugs. Every last one of them has said they know all about bed bugs; they have been briefed. And, I say, “Oh? Well, if you have seen this, I apologize…” and I pull out the life cycle pictures posted in here. Not one has ever seen any such thing. They don’t even know what the concern looks like…

Aides have been known to spread the bugs.

2 nobugsonme November 27, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Hi Carpathian Peasant,
Good for you for having some educational materials and trying to help spread the word. It’s a shame the agency isn’t doing more. That may be something you and the workers can encourage also.

3 Concerned friend November 29, 2013 at 11:00 am

I know somebody who’s a health worker for similarly disabled clients… and they have huge bed bug problems in the homes – but the management REFUSES to do anything about it. When she’d had enough of being eaten alive on her overnight shifts and started making a noise about it, they threatened to fire her for non-performance of her duties (her ‘job’ was to sleep in the house in case of any overnight issues…) Seems like nobody wants to acknowledge their responsibility for taking care of the pests because it costs too much – health care workers are disposable, and the clients are too mentally and physically challenged to stand up for themselves and demand help.

4 Lou November 29, 2013 at 11:52 am

And if the agencies don’t do enough by way of education of their employees, did the man have crab lice misidentified as bed bugs?

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