VCT1303:             A Regional Strategy to Address Bedbugs: A Diverse Partnership Model for Addressing Emerging Public Health Issues

Speaker:              Matt Davis, MPH; Christie  Sweitz, REHS

A re-emergence of bedbugs and resultant impacts on community resources led to the convening of a “Bedbug Summit." Attendees represented professionals from a broad spectrum of affected sectors including housing providers, homeless-shelters, education, pest control services, public health, waste stream management, and social services. During the summit, this group worked together and identified collaborative approaches to address bedbugs in the region. The resulting Bed Bug Workgroup has made significant achievements including successful advocacy for additional funding, launching an information telephone hotline, developing a multi-lingual educational clearinghouse website, and identification of a collaborative surveillance system that protects pest control operators and the communities they serve. Attend this session to learn about how engaging nontraditional partners results in more robust environmental health outcomes and apply a community organizing model to emergent public health issues.

 

***********************************************

Multnomah County, the most populous and most dense area in the state of Oregon has been experiencing the re-emergence of bedbugs since 2007 with increases in complaints and rising costs for agencies, community members, and businesses that have had infestations. Many other areas of the state are now reporting the re-emergence of bedbugs and resultant impacts on community resources.

 

In response to this emerging issue, Multnomah County Environmental Health, in partnership with local elected officials convened a “Bedbug Summit” in March 2011 to begin identifying collaborative approaches to address bedbugs in the region. Summit attendees represented professionals from a broad spectrum of affected sectors including housing providers, homeless-shelters, education, pest control services, public health, waste stream management and social services.

 

This led to the formation of a Bed Bug Workgroup that includes regional and state partners. The workgroup created a two year work plan focused on five key areas to address the resurgence of bedbugs:

1)      Public Information

2)      training and certification

3)      surveillance

4)      waste stream management and reduction, and

5)      funding and resources.

 

Through close collaboration the workgroup partners have made significant achievements including successful advocacy for additional funding, launching an information telephone hotline, developing a multi-lingual educational clearinghouse website and identification of a collaborative surveillance system that protects pest control operators and the communities they serve.

 

The success of the group is attributed to the diversity of multiple organizations coming together to create an environment that supports prevention and public information as key strategies for the reduction of the spread of bedbugs,