Northern Kentucky Hotels in Battle with Bedbugs

May 29, 2012

About half of northern Kentucky hotels have had at least one bedbug complaint since May 2010.

The Kentucky Enquirer examined records it obtained under an open records request and found that 34 of the 64 hotels under the jurisdiction of the Northern Kentucky Health Department have received bedbug complaints.

Steve Divine of the Health District said the reports have concerned all types of hotels.

“It’s not just the mom and pop hotels on the side of the road,” Divine said. “It’s those all the way up to expensive hotels with big operations that can have the issue. It can happen to any hotel or facility, but it’s how they handle it that seems to make the difference.”

For example, he said a lone complaint at one hotel led to the room being inspected by a pest control company and being put out of use for a month. He said other hotels required multiple follow-up visits to get a resolution.

“For the most part, they don’t want to have them either because it’s bad for business,” Divine said. “They usually have been very receptive of what we are requiring them to do. They know that’s just part of doing business, unfortunately, at this point.”

John Johnson, who traveled to Florence for a work assignment, said he had his first experience — and hopefully his last — with bedbugs at a local hotel.

“They were biting me all over,” Johnson said. “They were on me and in my clothes. It was awful.”

Johnson said the manager moved him to a different room when he complained, but the pesky critters moved with him.

Joe McInerney, president of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, said the bedbug problem is a national issue.

“It’s not limited to a particular city or section of the country or state,” McInerney said. “We put a lot of information on our website and we hold webinars for our members about bedbugs and what you need to do if you find them in your hotel. We’ve done training with our (housekeepers) about what to look for in the guest rooms and make sure they do a deep cleaning in certain areas. There’s only so much you can do about them because you could clean them up today and tomorrow they can come back again because somebody else brought them in.”

Divine said the most recent routine inspections by the Northern Kentucky Health Department didn’t find any bedbugs, but that’s not unusual.

“Unless there is a complaint, we’re only doing inspections on hotels once a year,” Divine said. “We’re only looking at 10 percent (of rooms) on any given visit, so it’s kind of going to be hit or miss and the odds aren’t necessarily in your favor. If somebody calls in a complaint, obviously they have experienced it in a specific room and hopefully very recently.”

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