3 questions to ask your pest management vendor before a survey

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Tim Husen, Ph.D, Technical Services Manager, Orkin, LLC
Tim Husen, Ph.D, Technical Services Manager, Orkin, LLC

Expected to meet the highest level of hygiene and sanitation, long-term care facilities are held to strict standards during their annual survey. As you prepare, it's important not to overlook pest management.

Poor pest management practices could cost points on your inspection, damaging your facility's reputation and bottom line. Implementing an Integrated Pest Management plan is critical to keeping your facility on the straight and narrow and ready for the surveyor.

IPM is a business-savvy and environmentally responsible approach to pest management that emphasizes prevention and exclusion tactics, using chemical solutions as a last resort in targeted applications. An effective IPM strategy is customized to your healthcare facility's unique structural and environmental needs. IPM plans include documentation to show the risk-based corrective and preventative actions to take, which will keep you ahead of the game for annual surveys. Surveyors like to see this organized documentation because it demonstrates that your business takes a proactive rather than reactive approach to pest management.

A pest management professional can work with you to establish an IPM plan and help you maintain records of your pest management efforts. To make sure you're on track, ask your pest management provider these questions:

  1. What are you doing now and in the long term?

Pest management techniques – and the pest pressures you face – change over time, so you should be aware of your pest management provider's short-term and long-term plans to control pest activity. Your IPM plan should be customized to your facility's unique needs, architectural and design features and any seasonal changes in weather conditions. As pest pressure and conditions change and you adapt your pest management program, it should all be carefully documented so there are not discrepancies when you provide records to your surveyor.

  1. How are you documenting pest activity and prevention efforts?

    Your pest management provider should document all their activity and provide you with regular reports detailing their service. Talk with your provider to learn what documentation tools they use and make sure that you keep these records for inspection. Ask about monitoring devices and traps, as these are a great way to gauge the differing levels of pest activity around your facility to determine high risk areas. These devices will show your surveyor that you are aware pests can lurk anywhere in your facility, even with a top-notch IPM program in place, but that you are set up to catch them before they become an infestation.

    As a best practice, also work with your pest management provider to create a trend report that identifies potential pest hot spots and shows which pests present the biggest threat to your facility. You want to be upfront with your surveyor, and this trend report will tell them how you have monitored past pest issues and used this information to better resolve current pest sightings and plan/prevent future occurrences.

  1. How can you and your staff help with IPM?

    When a member of your staff sees a pest, a pest sighting plan must be in place and immediate action may need to be taken. Depending on the type of pest detected, you can't always wait for your pest management provider's next visit to document or tell them what was seen. In either an acceptable or emergency pest situation, your staff needs to be prepared to create pest sighting reports. Your pest control company should offer complimentary staff training on pest ID, avoidance and prevention. They also can detail for you what information is needed and how to fill out reports. These reports should detail what kind of pest was seen, how many there were and where the sighting occurred. Your provider also can educate your staff on best practices to prevent pests in the first place. As a bonus, explaining to your surveyor that your staff has undergone pest management training will help demonstrate your proactive approach to controlling pest activity.

    By asking these questions, you and your pest management provider can stay ahead of pest problems so that come time for your annual survey, you have everything you need to demonstrate the effectiveness of your IPM program. Thorough documentation will improve your overall IPM strategy, as you will have the information you need to make educated decisions about which techniques to use.

    Schedule a meeting with your pest management provider to be assured that your pest control program will be survey-ready.  

Tim Husen, Ph.D., BCE, is Technical Services Manager for Orkin. A board-certified entomologist specializing in urban entomology, he has more than a decade of experience in the industry. For more information, email thusen@rollins.com or visit www.orkincommercial.com.

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