One of Australia’s busiest hospitals is reportedly facing a major rodent infestation, with accounts of both rats and mice inundating the facility, winding up in patients’ beds, staff rooms and even in operating theatres.
Documents obtained by The Herald Sun under Freedom of Information laws reportedly show that since 2020 external contractors have struggled to contain the infestation, and during one single month this year, a total of “eight alerts” were issued over the rodents.
Faeces in beds, mice in guests’ belongings, staff rooms
Faeces has reportedly been found in patients’ beds, with mice also having been spotted in visitor’s belongings, in communal hospital areas and in staff rooms.
It’s understood the state of the hospital has prompted a number of staff to leave, with one former physician of 30 years, Professor John Wilson, blaming the facility’s deterioration as the “tipping point” that compelled him to hand in his notice a year ago.
“When does the community stand up and say, enough is enough, rats in our hospitals are not acceptable, and it’s time we had a new one,” Professor Wilson said on 3AW.
It is understood a lack of proper cleaning, disposing of garbage, and general housekeeping are major contributing factors for issue’s the escalation, which at one stage saw a patient reportedly “jump up onto a table screaming” to avoid a mouse that had run into their room.
“There is an already weekly scheduled service in place with extensive baiting occurring within, but the mice will seek out left out foods, crumbs etc, before they go for any of the baits,” an employee told The Herald Sun
An apparent lack of funding has been another issue contributing to the saga, with the opposition accusing the state government of neglecting the hospital — where Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews was treated after taking a fall last year.
Other hospitals operated by Alfred Health facing similar crisis
It’s understood that other Victorian hospitals, Sandringham and Caulfield, which are also operated by Alfred Health, are suffering from similar pest problems. Cockroaches are reportedly rampant at Sandringham, while an employee at Caulfield reported finding a 25cm snake in the facility’s aged care wing.
A spokesperson for Alfred Health said “regular inspection and treatment is scheduled” across all of sites operated by the authority.
“Pest activity can be exacerbated during periods of nearby construction and, for this reason, maintenance visits and active baiting have both been increased at The Alfred over the past two years,” the spokesperson said.
“Our kitchens regularly undergo rigorous audits by both accredited independent food safety auditors, and the local council.”
Top doc calls for hospital to be ‘upgraded or closed’
Meanwhile, The Alfred’s director of trauma services, Professor Mark Fitzgerald branded the dire situation at the hospital “hopeless”.
Speaking on 3AW, Mr Fitzgerald said he had attempted to contact Premier Andrews on a number of occasions regarding the state of the hospital, but hasn’t received a response — so now has gone public.
According to Mr Fitzgerald, a review of the hospital’s operating theatres from five years ago found them to be “prehistoric”. “The future is dependent on money. I mean, those operating theatres were designed during the Vietnam War,” he said.
“The biggest issue with those operating theatres is not once you’re in them what you can do, but the changeover time between cases is extraordinarily long because of the bottlenecks caused by the old design, so we’re doing a lot less work than we should be able to.”
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