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Vietnam Veteran Found Covered In Ants At VA Clinic In His Final Days — Twice

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

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  • An Air Force veteran was found covered in ants during his final days staying in an Atlanta VA clinic.
  • Staff cleaned his room when they were notified, but he was discovered covered in ants for a second time the next day.
  • His daughter told reporters, “He served his country in the Air Force, and I think that he deserved better.”

A Vietnam veteran who served in the U.S. Air Force was found covered in ants and ant bites twice during his final days at his local Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic, according to his daughter.

Joel Marrable, 73, died of cancer on Sept. 7 at the Eagles’ Nest Community Living Center in the Atlanta VA Medical Center, CNN reported Friday.

While he was still at the clinic in his final days, Marrable’s daughter, Laquana Ross, told CNN some workers who went to visit him told her they had found him covered in ants.

They told her, “We thought Mr. Marrable was dead. We didn’t know what had happened. Everyone jumped in and grabbed him and made sure we did whatever we could to get the ants off of him.”

Ross said when the staff was informed of the ants, they stripped his bed and cleaned his room, but Marrable was again found covered in ants the next morning — on his stomach and in his feeding tube and diaper. Ross said her father had swollen bumps all over his skin.

“That wasn’t how he looked when I saw him the last time,” she told WSB on Thursday. (RELATED: VA Hospital Stops Investigation Against Whistle-Blower)

An administrator at the clinic arranged for Marrable to be moved into a new room, but he died an hour later. The clinic sent WSB a statement detailing the measures it has taken to address the problem since Ross shared her father’s story.

The following actions have been taken to address the ant issue at the CLC:

  •  All bedrooms have been stripped, inspected for ants, and cleaned by Environmental Management Services
  • All open containers and open food have been removed from all bedrooms 
  • The Chief Geriatrics Nurse is working with Voluntary Services to obtain plastic containers to assist the residents with sealing their snacks for storage in the bedrooms
  • The CLC staff is conducting additional visits specifically inspecting for insects and ants 
  • The EMS Pest Control continues to treat and monitor all CLC rooms daily to ensure no negative impact to patient care
  • A private pest control company conducted an independent assessment on Sep 9
  • A regional VA pest control expert will conduct a site visit to assess the CLC ant issue by Sep 13

Atlanta VA Health Care System always strives to provide Veterans with the very best health care available. When we don’t meet that standard, we hold ourselves accountable.

“I felt very small in the world Saturday when my dad died,” Ross told CNN. “Now, I am able to share his story, and my dad matters to someone beyond me and my family. Now the world knows, and the world cares that this happened.”

“He served his country in the Air Force, and I think that he deserved better,” she told WBS.

The Atlanta VA Health Care System said in a statement to CNN that it “always strives to provide Veterans with the very best health care available. When we don’t meet that standard, we hold ourselves accountable.”

“That’s why we have initiated a top-to-bottom review of this situation to ensure it never happens again. We have apologized to the Marrable family and taken immediate action to correct this issue and ensure no other Veterans will be affected in the future,” the statement continued.

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