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November 1, 2012

Previous building owner denies property is source of hospital’s rats

Hospital reopened wednesday night after $20,000 eradication, cleanup

COMMERCE — When Hunt Regional Community Hospital at Commerce was shut down late last week due to a rodent infestation in the ceiling, hospital administration identified a nearby abandoned nursing home as the probable source of the rodents. Dr. Bill Aslan, a professor of mathematics at Texas A&M University-Commerce, used to own the property until he sold it to Amir Rahman three years ago, county tax records show. Alsan denied that the building, located at 2400 Charity Road, was the source of the rodents.

“There is no water, food or heat in the building,” Aslan said. “Rats do not like to live where there are none of those things.”

Aslan used the building for storage for several rental properties he used to own in the area.

“I kept windows, supplies, things like that,” he said. “I know one of the previous owners stored some parachute material there as well. There is evidence of raccoons and cats, but no rats. I have never seen a single rat or mouse.”

A team of individuals from the city of Commerce, the hospital district, the Hunt County Health Department, Terminex and a company hired by the hospital for pest control inspected the facility last Friday. According to City Manager Marc Clayton, there were some code violations that will need to be addressed that the city discovered after entering the building, such as paint cans and openings where rodents could enter the building. The city has to receive a report from Terminex and the hospital’s pest control company before Clayton can comment on the presence of rodents, or lack thereof

“I’m waiting on reports from the two independent companies,” Clayton said. “It’s a top priority right now, because it involves the health and safety of our citizens. I will do everything within the letter of the law to get the property cleaned up.”

According to Clayton, the city received a complaint from the hospital approximately one year ago, and sent out an animal control officer with rat traps and poison.

“We received a complaint before and addressed it,” he said. “I wasn’t aware there was still a problem.”

The outside of the building was up to code because the grass was mowed and the building was boarded up properly, Clayton said.

Rahman was unavailable for comment at press time.

The hospital announced late Tuesday that they would reopen at 7 p.m. on Oct. 31.

“The facility was temporarily closed last Wednesday due to a rodent infestation.  Rodents were discovered in roof-top traps set by a company retained by Hunt Regional for pest control at all facilities,” the release read. “It is suspected the rats originated in an abandoned building south of Hunt Regional Community Hospital. Exterminators determined the pests were contained in the roof and attic space of the hospital facility.”

According to the hospital, they reported the incident to the Texas Department of Health and hospital officials have followed TDH guidelines through the entire process.

“It is estimated the complete eradication, remediation and repairs will cost Hunt Regional Healthcare more than $20,000,” the release read.

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Zoe Peak signs her letter of intent to swim for Henderson State University on Wednesday inside the Commerce High School library.

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