While doctors strike, remaining Landspítali staff fight critters
Last week, pharaoh ants were discovered on the premises of Landspítali, Iceland’s university hospital. That was in a hospital building by Hringbraut, housing the hospital’s kitchen among other services. Now, according to Visir, mice have been discovered in Landspítali’s clinic for skin diseases and STDs, in Fossvogur.
Aðalsteinn Pálsson, Landspítali’s real estate manager, says that the pesticides, currently employed to conquer the ants, first reported by RUV, seem promising. “In some places they have disappeared altogether. In others a few remain. We have been told that the ants can survive up to 2 or 3 months, so we must patrol the area at least for the next couple of months.”
Pharaoh ants are tiny, yellowish or light-brown creatures, almost transparent. Originally a tropical species, they are known to set up camp in any premises that provide central heating. Reportedly, they are a common nuisance in hospitals the world over. This is the first such case known in Iceland.
Interviewed by Visir, Aðalsteinn Pálsson, Landspítali’s real estate manager, says that mice are not common in the hospital’s building either. A mouse was caught in the building two months ago, he adds, and now, again, earlier this week. “In neither case did the mice enter the department where the patients are kept,” he said.
The skin disease and STDs department, where the mice made their appearance, is located in a wooden house close to Landspítali’s main premises. The building is currently being searched for gaps or entrances where the rodents might get in. Aðalsteinn says that the building is a temporary solution, built to last a few years. “Perhaps it is not tight enough or well insulated, which would create a certain risk of mice getting in. The house is of course located close to the greens of Fossvogur park. At the onset of winter the mice are known to seek warmth,” he further explains.
Doctors remain on strike. Professor and chief physician Tómas Guðbjartsson says that they are not only fighting for better wages, but also for a new, improved hospital and better funding. “The building where the ants were found has not been properly maintained for decades,” he said.
At the same time, hospital staff has been caught up in struggle against MRSA-infections and mold. As all the Icelandic terms for all these pests starts with an M, they have become known, and are currently reported, as the hospital’s “four Ms”.