Bedbugs at Ottawa isolation hub alarm guest covered with bites
“I am advocating for my safety”
Bedbugs have made another appearance at an Ottawa isolation hub for Nunavut residents and travellers heading to the territory.
A guest at the Hilton Homewood Suites is nearing the end of her two-week isolation at the downtown Ottawa hotel before travelling to Nunavut on business.
She told Nunatsiaq News earlier this week she became increasingly worried about her well-being after being bitten repeatedly by bedbugs over the weekend.
The woman asked for her name to be kept confidential because of work-related agreements which do not give her the authority to speak to media.
The woman said it was confirmed Monday night, Nov. 9, that the nasty bite marks she had first noticed a day earlier on her arms, neck and head were indeed the result of hungry bedbugs.
“I was showering on Sunday and noticing my elbow was completely swollen, and then I saw three bites on my arm,” she said.
She then sent photos of the marks to a friend, a doctor, who suggested they might be bedbug bites.
So, she called in the isolation hub nurse, who then advised her to inform hotel staff. She said a hotel manager inspected her bed but couldn’t see any signs of bedbugs.
Nunatsiaq News contacted the hotel for comment, but was referred to the Government of Nunavut.
The GN’s Health Department told Nunatsiaq News that “when the hotels contracted by the Government of Nunavut become aware of bedbugs, they are obligated to follow the public health protocols and measures,” said Chris Puglia, a Health Department spokesman.
“Isolation management teams also work with the hotels to minimize the impact to guests. Anyone with concerns regarding isolation can contact firstname.lastname@example.org,” he said.
The woman’s concerns came only a little more than a month after bedbugs were detected in another room on the third floor of the same hotel.
She said she has since found out that her room was adjacent to the room with the earlier infestation.
By Monday morning, she had so many more bites on her body that she again called the nurse and hotel manager.
The nurse then told the woman that her marks did look like bedbug bites.
The woman contacted Ottawa Public Health and also wrote to the Government of Nunavut on Monday.
She told the GN Health Department’s office of isolation relations that she had been bitten and sent them several photos showing the bites, receiving an answer that “we are addressing this immediately.”
That was some reassurance to the woman.
“We have a lot of people residing in Nunavut here, and they are going back to Whale Cove and Pond Inlet and other communities, and they are going to bring these back home,” she said.
Later a deputy minister and health department staff member called her.
“They apologized,” she said.
The woman was then moved to the sixth floor of the hotel.
She continued to be bitten.
On Tuesday evening the hotel moved her again, and provided her with expert assurance from a laboratory technician that the new room would be bedbug-free.
The woman’s belongings were steamed and dry-cleaned, she said.
The situation has made her angry, the woman said: “I am definitely annoyed. I am advocating for my safety and for additional measures to protect other guests.”
“I now worry for my well-being,” she said. “I have so many bites in my head, I think they punched through.”
What to do if you see bedbugs
Ottawa Public Health says residents or guests with concerns should consult OPH bedbugs resource website, or contact the city phone line at 311 to initiate a service request for support under the city’s property standards bylaw.