THE POSTGRADUATE Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) is facing an unusual problem for which it has no treatment. The institute is battling bed bugs, which is giving a tough time not only to patients and their family members, but also to the hospital staff. Officials say that the institute’s Nehru hospital is mainly affected by the menace. Other than the private wards of the Nehru hospital and general wards, the bugs have also made inroads into the ICUs. Such is the situation that the insect, which makes its home in mattresses and in crevices of furniture and lives on human blood, have become immune to chemicals at the institute.
Dr A K Gupta, medical superintendent, PGI, agrees that the problem exists at the institute and says that the institute has been making efforts to deal with this problem. “We had given a tender to a company for the removal of bugs from the institute. They have tried all chemicals, but nothing is working on them,” says Gupta.
The “problem”, Gupta says, “is that they are not inside the beds, but they are hiding inside the tiles fitted on the walls”. “We have been trying for so many years now, but there is no result,” he says. Worried PGI has now approached the Panjab University Department of Zoology.
“The long-term solution is renovation of the building. As advised by PU, we are purchasing a steamer which can generate heat as advised by PU professor. The purchase process is on,” says Gupta, adding that the institute is replacing the wooden furniture with that of steel. Another doctor who is privy to the insect control claims that although the institute “tried to replace the furniture of the private wards, it is very difficult to save the wards from the bed bugs”.
“The buildings are very old and they hide under the surface of the walls. It is a challenge in a sense that there is no solution available with us,” he says. “We keep receiving complaints from almost all the areas of the Nehru hospital. We send our people. For sometime, the problem subsides, but it returns again.”
Another problem for the institute is that it is very difficult to take out the patients repeatedly from the wards to do anti-bug spraying. Neelima R Kumar, Professor, Department of Zoology, Panjab University, who was consulted by PGI, asserts that measures are required on “war footing basis in view of severity of the problem.” “The number of bed bugs is huge, the area is so huge that it becomes difficult to control the situation. Whenever we use chemicals without proper recommendation and proper dosage, the bugs become resistant to the chemicals,” she says. Neelima says that the “bed bugs are now resistant to the chemicals and they are coming out in greater numbers”.
What is the solution to address the problem? “New strategies need to be formed by the hospital. They need to talk to multiple people and then find a solution to the problem,” says Neelima. Adding to the worry for the PU professor and PGI is that the bed bugs could turn more dangerous. “A bed bug usually doesn’t carry a disease, but if the number is huge then it could transmit other diseases as well,” Neelima says. “So we need to take measures immediately.”