Providence St. Peter Hospital's cafeteria shut down due to presence of rats

VIDEO: Providence St. Peter Hospital's cafeteria shut down due to presence of rats

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The cafeteria at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia was shut down Friday after officials found the presence of rats in the kitchen.

“It makes your stomach churn,” said Jean Wood, who ate at the hospital’s cafeteria a few weeks ago when her daughter was getting heart surgery.

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“That’s really disgusting; I’ve eaten down there many times cause she’s had several surgeries,” said Wood.

Candace Estanique, with PCI Pest Control, said Thurston County’s rodent problem is getting bad. She said rodent calls are two to three times higher than they were this time last year.

She blames the weather and construction and said rats are drawn to food and trash.

“As small as a quarter inch, a mouse can get through and as small as a half inch a rat can get through,” Estanique said. “If we inspect about 10 homes on a day, I’d say it’s pretty common that eight out of those 10 homes would find activity of either rats or mice.”

She said rats are dirty animals that can make people sick.

“The main virus that rats generally carry that people, that are of concern in the pest industry, is leptospirosis, which could make someone very ill,” Estanique said.

Hospital officials said they implemented an emergency operation plan for food service while the cafeteria is closed. They also brought in a food truck Wednesday for visitors and staff.

“Patient meals are being prepped in an alternate location and are restricted to cold food service with the exception of caring for patients with special dietary needs,” a spokesperson for the hospital wrote in a statement to KIRO 7.

“Infection prevention and the safety of our patients and caregivers remain our top priority. A multi-disciplinary group including Providence senior leaders, Infection Prevention, Facilities, Dietary, and more has developed an action plan. We have brought in outside experts to evaluate the extent of the issue. This work, including ongoing remediation efforts, continues today. We will return to normal operations as soon as possible.”

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