Gwen is the recipient of adult supportive services offered by the state and county who resides in Nuevo, California. Gwen and her husband Harry, live in a two bedroom, two bathroom trailer. Gwen’s caseworker did a home visit to the trailer and discovered an array of issues that jeopardize the health and welfare of Gwen as well as Harold. The state of affairs at the residence is such that the health and wellbeing of Gwen and her husband are at risk. The need for immediate professional comprehensive cleanup and biohazard remediation is a must.
The cleanup associated with Gwen’s trailer, the complexity of restoring the premises to a truly legal condition, necessitated the engagement of an experienced, reputable biohazard cleaning and remediation company. The company selected also needed to be affordable. For these reasons, Eco Bear was hired to provide comprehensive cleanup and biohazard remediation services at Gwen’s trailer.
Hazards and Cleanup Issues at the Residence
Problems identified by the caseworker during the home visit include:
- Moderate hoarding behavior is evident in the trailer. The caseworker was able to determine that Gwen was the individual engaged in hoarding behavior. With that said, despite evident hoarding behavior, a determination has not been made that Gwen is afflicted with hoarding disorder.
- A variety of animals are living in the trailer along with Gwen and Harold. These included:
- Two dogs (a large and small dog)
- At least three cats (potentially more)
- Pet waste on the floor throughout the trailer
- At least 20 filled garbage bags inside the residence
- A number of different species of insects observed throughout the trailer
- Extensive garbage strewn loosely throughout the residence
- Extensive garbage strewn outside of the residence
- Grime and filth accumulated in the kitchen, both bathrooms, and elsewhere in the residence
- Biohazardous conditions present throughout the trailer
Overview of Stages of Hoarding
As mentioned previously, during a caseworker visit to the trailer, a determination was made that Gwen exhibits what is described as moderate hoarding behavior. Experts in the field of hoarding behavior and hoarding disorder identify a number of specific stages of hoarding behavior and associated hoarding disorder:
Stage One: Acquiring
The first stage of hoarding disorder is acquiring. During this stage, individuals begin to accumulate possessions beyond what is considered normal or necessary. They may collect items that are free, on sale, or that they perceive to be valuable, often with the intention of using or fixing them later. A person may experience a sense of satisfaction or excitement when acquiring new items, which can lead to a cycle of compulsive buying or collecting.
Stage Two: Cluttering
As individuals continue to acquire possessions, they may begin to experience difficulty organizing or storing them. This can lead to cluttered living spaces, such as overflowing closets, stacked boxes, or piles of items on the floor. The individual may also begin to feel anxious or overwhelmed by the clutter, leading to avoidance of inviting others into their homes. Cluttering can significantly impact an individual’s daily functioning, leading to further isolation and distress.
Stage Three: Difficulty Discarding
The third stage of hoarding disorder is difficulty discarding. During this stage, individuals may begin to experience emotional attachments to their possessions, making it difficult to discard them. They may perceive their possessions as having sentimental value or being useful in the future, leading to a sense of loss or sadness when considering getting rid of them. This can lead to a buildup of clutter, as individuals struggle to part with their possessions.
Stage Four: Impairment
As hoarding disorder progresses, individuals may begin to experience impairment in their daily lives. This can include difficulty performing everyday tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, or paying bills, as well as social isolation and strained relationships with family and friends. Individuals may also experience physical health problems resulting from the clutter and unsanitary living conditions. The cluttered environment can lead to respiratory problems, tripping hazards, and increased risk of fires.
Stage Five: Insight and Awareness
The final stage of hoarding disorder is insight and awareness. During this stage, individuals may begin to recognize the negative impact that hoarding has on their lives, and may seek help to address the issue. This can include therapy, support groups, or professional organizing services. With treatment and support, individuals with hoarding disorder can learn to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
In the case of Gwen, and as was noted a moment ago, her caseworker believed that the woman was afflicted with what the caseworker described as moderate hoarding behavior. If the stages of hoarding discussed a moment ago were utilized in regard to Gwen’s situation, she likely would have been placed at Stage Two, perhaps Stage Two moving into Stage Three.
Special Considerations for Cleaning Up After Poor Pet Maintenance or Pet Hoarding
One of the specific unique cleanup and biohazard remediation requirements at Gwen’s trailer arose from too many animals living in the premises. Eco Bear needed to undertake specific remediation tactics to address the biohazardous aftermath of the poor care of the cats and dogs in the trailer and the improper maintenance of the premises that included failure to cleanup after defecation and urination. These specific pet remediation steps include:
- Assess the situation: Before beginning the cleanup process, it is important to understand the scale of the pet hoarding and the level of contamination in the environment. This will help you determine the extent of the cleanup and the resources that will be needed.
- Develop a plan: Create a detailed plan that outlines the steps necessary to clean up the environment. This should include a timeline, a list of necessary materials, and a contact list of professionals who can safely remove hazardous materials. It is important to have a clear plan in place to ensure that the cleanup is carried out efficiently and effectively.
- Use protective gear: Wear protective gear such as gloves, goggles, and a respirator mask to protect against infectious diseases and airborne contaminants. This is especially important when working in an environment with a high risk of exposure to hazardous materials.
- Remove debris: Remove all debris, including trash, feces, and dead animals, from the environment. Be sure to properly dispose of these items according to local regulations. It is important to remove all debris to prevent the spread of disease and to create a clean and safe environment.
- Clean and disinfect: Clean and disinfect all surfaces in the environment using specialized cleaning products and equipment. This should include walls, floors, and any items that cannot be removed. It is important to use the appropriate cleaning products and equipment to ensure that all contaminants are removed.
- Air out the space: Use fans and open windows to air out the space and remove any lingering odors or contaminants. This will help to improve air quality and create a more pleasant environment.
- Monitor the area: Monitor the environment in the weeks and months following the cleanup to ensure that it remains safe and habitable. This may involve testing for contaminants or working with a professional to ensure that the environment is safe for human and animal habitation.
Standard Cost Categories Associated With Residential Biohazard Remediation
In the case of the cleanup and remediation of Gwen’s trailer, Eco Bear charges what relatively speaking is about 50 percent off of the fees of competitors in the realm of biohazard cleaning. In this case, the comprehensive trailer cleaning and associated biohazard remediation required a team of four professionals. The project took three days to complete. The total cost of the expert remediation was $10,000.
In order to put costs into perspective, fees associated with residential biohazard remediation typically breakdown into general categories that include:
Labor costs: Depending on the extent of the biohazard, labor costs can vary greatly. In general, the more extensive the biohazard, the higher the labor costs will be. This may include costs associated with removing affected items such as carpeting and drywall. In many cases, specialized training is required for workers who are involved in biohazard remediation, which can add to the overall labor costs.
Equipment costs: Biohazard remediation often requires the use of specialized equipment, which can be expensive. This may include personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers, such as hazmat suits, respirators, and gloves. Specialized cleaning products may also be required, which can include disinfectants, deodorizers, and other chemicals. In some cases, air purifiers or ozone generators may be used to remove odors and other contaminants from the air.
Disposal fees: Biohazardous waste must be disposed of properly, which can add to the overall cost of remediation. This may include fees associated with transporting the waste to a disposal facility, as well as the cost of actually disposing of the waste. In some cases, biohazardous waste may need to be transported to a specialized facility for disposal, which can be more expensive.
Testing fees: In many cases, it is necessary to test the area for bacteria, viruses, or other harmful pathogens to ensure that the area is fully remediated. This can involve taking samples of air, water, or other materials and sending them to a laboratory for analysis. Testing fees can vary depending on the type and number of tests that are required.
Restoration costs: After the biohazard has been completely removed, it may be necessary to restore the affected area with new materials. This can include replacing damaged carpeting, drywall, and other building materials. Restoration costs can vary depending on the extent of the damage and the materials that need to be replaced.