Phoenix veterans moved from VA nursing home after rat infestation, officials say

·2 min read

PHOENIX — A Veteran Affairs nursing home in Arizona closed after rats were found in the housing area, VA staff said Monday during a news conference.

Phoenix VA medical director Michael Welsh said an employee of the Community Living Center in Phoenix noticed a crack in the ceiling of the staff office on July 22. A deeper investigation found rat activity on the first and second floors of the facility, he said.

According to Welsh, what they assumed was a crack was actually chew marks in the ceiling. Two recent monsoons could have triggered the rodent issue, he said during the news conference.

Further investigation in the facility showed more rats on the second floor, which was not occupied by residents. 25 residents were forced to relocate, according to ABC News. Welsh didn't specify when the nursing home began moving them.

"There has been no interaction between rodents, staff and veterans at all," Welsh said at the news conference.

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Welsh said that the staff believes that rats are located in between the walls and ceilings, and have begun placing rat traps throughout the nursing home.

"We immediately started planning to get the residents out of that environment to a safer environment," said Stephanie Kendricks, chief nurse of the Phoenix VA center.

Kendricks said communication between the residents and their families was an important step in the process of moving residents. Many aspects were looked at before moving residents, such as walking ability and if residents have a family.

According to News 12, the ages of the residents ranged from their 70s to 106.

"For us, we were able to send them to some of our sister facilities which also follow the same mission and they are also a veteran center. Patient safety was first," said Kendricks.

Welsh said it's unknown when the full inspection of the nursing home will be completed and when residents can move back in.

Reach Breaking News Reporter Jodicee Arianna at Jodicee.Harris@gannett.com. Support local journalism, subscribe to https://www.azcentral.com/.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Phoenix VA moves patients after finding rats in a nursing facility