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Daughter of Vietnam vet who died covered in ant bites turns her father's death into a cause for good

Laquana Ross says she hopes her dad's death creates changes in the VA

ATLANTA — Laquana Ross wants to know how her dad - a Vietnam veteran - was covered in hundreds of ant bites while living at a Veteran Affairs facility in Atlanta. 

"I'm confident that on the first day my dad was covered in ants, he knew what was going on," Ross told 11Alive's Elwyn Lopez. 

Ross' father, Joel Marrable, was diagnosed with stage four cancer earlier this year, and had been staying at the Eagle's Nest Community Living Center in Atlanta for approximately 14 months. 

Ross says the 73-year-old veteran was covered in ants twice while at the VA facility. She says he died shortly after being moved to another room. 

The VA has already taken immediate action as the investigation continues.

"I think that everyone is kinda damaged in this case, and so as we go into kinda evaluating it, the hope is that they are able to get to the root cause," she said. 

READ: Vietnam vet covered in ant bites at VA facility before he died in Atlanta, family says

Earlier this week, the VA announced it was placing the regional director based in Atlanta on administrative leave. The Atlanta chief medical officer was assigned to administrative duties and seven staffers were removed from patient care. 

"I'd come to visit, and he would have a tray there from days prior, he would have items left in his room that were there - sandwiches, sweets - things that may have been removed from the tray, but just in separate areas throughout the room," Ross added. 

Credit: Provided

Ross says no one told her family about the ants until she visited her dad at the VA facility, and asked about his swollen hand. 

"No one in our family had been communicated to that this had happened, and so, I've asked, and will continue to ask, as the VA continues to evaluate this, we have the issue that is the ants, but the bigger is what is the process?" she asked. 

RELATED: VA announces leadership shake up after veteran patient was covered in ant bites in his room

Ross is making it her mission to keep other veterans from going through what her father endured.

"Once they (the VA) create the change and take these steps, they need to ensure to sustain it," she said, adding, "They've made some major changes to demonstrate to the public and my family that they really do care about what happened to my dad."

In a statement, the Veteran Affairs Office said: 

"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.

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."


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