The front entrance to the Atlanta VA medical Center, located on Clairmont Road in Decatur. The hospital canteen was closed Wednesday while the agency took steps to make sure pest controls were in place. Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com

Atlanta Veteran Affairs hospital closes canteen for pest investigation

Atlanta’s U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital closed its canteen Wednesday as the agency said it wanted to make sure pest control procedures were being adhered to in response to recent events.

Earlier this month, an infestation of ants left a veteran bitten more than 100 times in the adjoining Eagles’ Nest Community Living Center in the same Decatur compound.

The canteen will reopen Thursday, and the interruption in service did not affect food service to patients, according to a statement the agency released.

It did not go into detail, but a member of Georgia Military Women called the group’s founder Amy Stevens to tell her she saw cockroaches on the floors while visiting the hospital Wednesday.

“Any Georgian knows that insects here are a life-long battle,” Stevens said. But you take immediate action and don’t wait for it to get worse, she said.

After the ant incident, which attracted national attention, VA leaders made sweeping changes to staff, including putting the district director on leave, reassigning the chief medical officer and reassigning seven staffers to duties not related to patients. A team from outside the district is investigating.

The person picked as the acting district director for the long-troubled hospital is Scott R. Isaacks, the director at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston. That medical complex is recognized as a top performer for quality and efficiency. It recently received four- and five-star ratings, compared with the one star the Atlanta center received about a year ago.

Isaacks has had a long career with the VA, starting in 1992 and working in a number of hospitals from Texas to Miami and Charleston.

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