Warning: Details in the article might be disturbing to some readers.
Laquna Ross spotted red bite marks and swelling when she visited her father, Joel Marrable, who served in the U.S. Air Force, at the Eagle’s Nest Community Living Center at the Atlanta VA Medical Center.
Ross told the New York Daily News that she hadn’t seen her father in about 11 days when she visited him.
“When I took his hand out, it was really swollen, and he flinched,” she recalled. “I was really worried and asked a staffer if she could come take a look.”
She was flabbergasted when a staffer responded to her, according to the paper.
“She said, ‘Well, it’s getting better…you know…from the ants,’” Ross recalled what the staffer had allegedly told her.
The staffer then attempted to explain what had happened.
“She said my dad had been covered in ants. One of the nurses came in and turned on the lights and just screamed,” Ross said.
“She told me, ‘We thought Mr. Marrable was dead. We didn’t know what happened with all the ants. We jumped into action, took him into the shower and covered his nose so he could breathe while we washed them off,’” Ross added.
Marrable was then moved to another room in the middle of the night. He died within a few hours of being moved, Ross said.
“He had cancer for three years and spent 14 months at the VA. We made a bucket list and went to the Bahamas and laughed and joked up until the end. He was at peace with dying, so it’s so unfortunate this happened right at the end,” Ross said.
Speaking to WSB-TV in Atlanta, she said Marrable “had cancer” and “was going to die.”
However, she suggested that the ordeal may have hastened his demise.
“If it didn’t promote his body to die quicker, what is the protocol within the VA just to manage when something like this happens?” Ross told the station.
The VA hospital sent a statement to WSB.
“The Atlanta VA Health Care System leadership team has been notified that ants were found in our Community Living Center and impacting patients. CLC staff immediately cared for the Veterans and took action to ensure no other CLC residents were impacted. We would like to express our heartfelt remorse and apology to the Veterans’ families and have reached out to them to offer appropriate assistance,” it said.
The hospital said that it has taken a number of actions to deal with the problem, including inspections of rooms, removal of open containers of food, assessments by private pest control companies, and more.
“Our response to this incident is an opportunity to reevaluate our overall operations to provide even better care to our Veterans moving forward,” the statement read.
But Ross stated her father served his country, and she thinks “that he deserved better,” reported The Associated Press.