Time running out for Florida hospital to take care of bat infestation

Bats at a hospital?

FOX 35 News is investigating the infestation at Rockledge Regional Medical Center, after tipsters reached out about the issue.

For visitors at the hospital who hadn’t heard about the bats, the news came as a huge surprise.

"Never heard of anything like that in a hospital! Bats? C’mon, really?" said Rita Ortiz, who has a family member at the hospital. 

A representative for Rockledge Regional Medical Center told FOX 35 News the bats are in the space between the 5th and 6th floors, and the 6th and 7th floors.

The ICU is on the 5th floor normally, so the hospital relocated patients there to the 2nd floor to be safe.

The 6th and 7th floors are just for storage.

The hospital says there are no bats in the hallways, though some people told us otherwise. 

Jayne Johnston, a Senior Wildlife Assistance Biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), says it’s extremely easy for bats to sneak into buildings. 

"All a bat needs is the end of your thumb," said Johnston. "If you can fit your finger through that, the end of your thumb through that, a bat can also fit in there too."

The hospital told FOX 35 in a statement, 

"We are working closely with the Florida Department of Wildlife, Department of Health, the State Epidemiologist and a pest control company. They have assured us that there is no risk to patients or staff. With their help, we will proceed with mitigation efforts."

The problem is, Saturday, April 15th is the start of bat mating season. 

The FWC that’s the last day you can legally have exclusion work done until mid-August. That means the hospital has to figure out its infestation before then.

That’s something Norma Kimbrough, who also has a family member at the hospital, would like the hospital to take care of.  

 "I worked down here in my younger years," said Kimbrough. "We didn’t have any problem with any bats! Thank God."

The hospital also told FOX 35 they’ve taken "additional measures to ensure the safety of all those within the hospital" but didn’t specify what.