Rodent concerns force closure of Providence St. Peter’s kitchen, cafeteria

Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia.
Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia. Steve Bloom

Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia closed its kitchen and cafeteria over the weekend after finding evidence of rodents, according to an email to hospital staff.

The kitchen closed Friday night and remained closed Monday as pest control efforts continued in and around the kitchen.

“That’s the only area we’ve identified, but they’re doing thorough inspections all over,” said Providence spokesman Chris Thomas.

Patients’ food was being prepared and brought in from Providence Centralia Hospital, while a sign at the cafeteria entrance Monday directed people to the first-floor Starbucks.

Thomas said crews suspect the rodents in this case are roof rats. The roof rat population in Thurston County has grown significantly over the past decade, with local pest control companies reporting the rats are now customers’ top complaint.

Hospital officials were asking staff to only store food in locking plastic containers or a refrigerator, not in drawers or cabinets, and to dispose of cardboard and packaging.

Jody Monson of Pe Ell was waiting at the hospital with her family Monday because a relative was in surgery following a stroke. The group planned to be there all day, but with three young children, Starbucks presented limited meal options.

“You don’t want to leave but there’s nowhere (else),” she said. “We don’t want to feed them coffee beans.”

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Abby Spegman joined The Olympian in 2017. She covers the city of Olympia and a little bit of everything else. She previously worked at newspapers in Oregon, New Hampshire and Hawaii.