By CALEB SLINKARD
The Hunt Regional Community Hospital in Commerce will be shut down for the next five to seven days due to a rodent infestation, according to Hunt Regional Healthcare CEO Richard Carter.
The rodents were discovered Tuesday by a company retained by Hunt Regional for pest control at all of their facilities, and the infestation was confirmed Wednesday, Carter said.
“Effective 6 p.m. Oct. 24, all services have been shut down,” he said. “Inpatients have been discharged or transferred to appropriate facilities. We still have one patient that we expect to be transferred.”
The infestation does not currently present a health risk, according to Carter. The rodents were confined to the roof and attic of the building.
“There has been no evidence of rodents in the patient care areas or the food service area,” he said. “There are no health risks to patients and staff at this time. In order to be on the safe side, we decided it needs to be transparent that there is an issue and we’re taking immediate action to take care of it.”
According to Assistant Administrator John Heatherly, the rats probably originated in an abandoned building south of the hospital owned by Dr. Bill Aslan.
The hospital has attempted to work with the city to take care of the abandoned building, but the building remains a hazard, according to Carter.
“We have tried to work with the powers that be to see if we could get that taken care of, but that has not taken hold and we suspect the abandoned building is the origination of the rodents,” he said. “If they have been able to breach our building, then they have probably breached other buildings in the area.”
According to Carter, the medical staff has been notified and are supportive of the decision. The county-wide ambulance service, American Medical Response, is aware of the situation and will transport 911 emergency patients to the nearby facilities best suited to address the patients’ needs.
Employees of the hospital are either being accommodated at the Greenville hospital or are taking vacation days, Carter said.
The building has been thoroughly inspected and sealed, according to Carter.