COLUMBIA TOWNSHIP, Ohio – Mold. Garbage. Left-over food. Burns. And "an active rodent infestation."
Those are just a few of the conditions reported at the Days Inn off Ridge Road in Columbia Township, where an employee said she was so disgusted, she couldn't stay silent.
Taleena Perry said she went from room to room, recording video of bugs on the walls, moldy carpets, food stains, burn marks and other stains on the beds.
She contacted the Hamilton County Public Health Department and the I-Team with the footage.
“They continue to check families into these rooms. I don’t like that,” Perry said. “You know, me knowing at the front desk, if I check a family in, they have kids, they have babies and they’re going in these rooms and they’re not clean.”
Perry said she started working at the hotel in 2008 and was a manager for two years before she left. She said the conditions in the building made her sick and caused her respiratory issues.
Perry wasn’t the only person to file complaints with the health department. Records from health inspectors indicate they’ve investigated complaints about the Ridge Road Days Inn almost a dozen times in the past two years.
One complaint included reports of feces on sheets, drug residue on counters and condoms on the floor. Inspectors found dead roaches, mice droppings, garbage and mold during various visits, records show.
The owners “voluntarily closed” the hotel’s food service for a day last month after inspectors found “an active rodent infestation,” according to health department records. They brought in an exterminator and reopened the next day.
On Aug. 27, the health department determined the hotel was in “significant violation” of health codes and “posed an immediate danger to the customers.” They scheduled a meeting with the owners to get things cleaned up.
Health department officials are requiring the hotel to correct all the food safety and sanitation violations reported during the Aug. 27 inspection. They’re also requiring the hotel to:
- Have less than three critical violations and less than five total violations during inspections over the next six months.
- Hire a licensed pesticide applicator for treatments at least every two weeks until the “pest infestation” is under control.
- Have one manager per shift receive health department certification.
The I-Team decided to check on the claims, too. Last week, we booked a room and brought Gary Keller and Von Perkins from the company Disaster Services of Environmental Specialists to take a look.
Keller and Perkins discovered mold growing on the carpet under a sofa and in the shower. They also found hair extensions and other pieces of garbage scattered through the $115 suite.
Since the meeting with health officials, the owners said they were “doing everything [they] can” to clean up the hotel and showed us a list of problems they were addressing in different rooms. They also passed their most recent inspection this week.
Ridge Road Days Inn attorney James Hartke said Perry is to blame for some of the issues at the hotel.
Perry was working the desk and also responsible for cleaning the break area where food was located, according to Hartk.
She “failed in her responsibility” and never brought any issues to management or owners, Hartke wrote in a letter to the I-Team.
“The management team and other employees are working diligently to make this facility as good as it can be, not only in the breakfast area, but also in all of the rooms,” Hartke wrote.
Wyndham Hotels and Resorts corporate, which owns the Days Inn chain, said they are also looking into the issue:
"These allegations are deeply troubling as they are not reflective of our brand standards or the experience that so many of our hotels and their owners strive to provide. We are treating this matter seriously and are investigating with the hotel’s owner."
Hamilton County Public Health Department officials wouldn’t comment on the case because it’s still pending. In general, they said they push for education over enforcement and try to work with operators to abate health and safety issues. If there are repeated failed inspections, a facility could face suspension, closure and/or a loss of license.
Checking In Tips
So what should someone do when checking into a hotel room?
Keller, from Disaster Services of Environmental Specialists, recommended looking for mold and water damage around windows, bathtubs, sinks, toilets, the air-conditioner and corners near the ceiling.
“Hotel rooms are food sources for mold issues, whether it be dry wall, around the sink, around the tub,” he said. “It’s not uncommon.”
Even if the mold isn’t visible, its odor may be there. That’s when to ask for another room, or go to a new hotel altogether, Keller said.
“At the end of the day, people should really know what’s going on,” Perry said. “I mean, I feel like (the hotel) shouldn’t be open at all if they cannot get it together.”