Patients are complaining of mice in the palliative care unit at Halifax’s Victoria General Hospital.

The Capital District Health Authority says it is dealing with the matter, but patients and their family members say the rodent problem is just part of a larger issue that needs to be addressed.

Heather Farthing has a rare form of sarcoma. She says she feels uncomfortable in the palliative care unit - a place where the primary goal is to provide comfort.

“I have spotted them (mice) in this particular room on four separate occasions,” says Farthing. “To me, it should be a place of sanctity and there should be good feelings here.”

“If I go home to spend the night with my kids, I want to leave knowing that Heather is going to have a restful place to sleep,” says her husband, Norm Farthing.

Sean Feeney, the housekeeping manager for Capital Health, says the health authority has been working on the issue for a few weeks.

He says, starting Wednesday, Capital Health will be doing a ‘blitz’ in which all furniture will be moved away from walls and doors and each room in the unit will be cleaned.

“There is no fine rule with this, but we are working as hard as we can with our pest control provider, with the housekeeping department to ensure that we take care of this as fast we possibly can,” says Feeney.

Nova Scotia Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine was surprised to hear of mice in the palliative care unit and says he is very concerned about the matter.

“I certainly plan to get a full report immediately from the QEII and it may be part of that ongoing problem,” says Glavine.

The Victoria General site is old, patients aren’t able to bathe in the water, and the Farthings say there are fruit flies coming out of the drains.

“I mean, if this was a restaurant, it would be shut down,” says Norm Farthing.

Dave Holland, manager of pest control operations, says there seems to be more mice this year, in part due to new regulations that restrict the use of some pesticides, and in part because there was significant snowfall all winter.

“That gives them lots of areas to hide and of course, with the melting snow, there’s lots of food available that’s hidden,” says Holland.

Heather Farthing says the conditions at the hospital are simply unacceptable and a fix should come sooner, rather than later.

“There should be a place for loved ones to come and spend time comfortably with the people that are not going to go home.”

With files from CTV Atlantic's Kayla Hounsell