Three former workers at a Cherokee County, Ala., nursing home have been sentenced for allowing an elderly, bedridden patient to be bitten an estimated 100 times by ants over an 11-hour period in September 2016.
Sandra Michele Curry and Kacey Minerva Allen, both of Centre, Ala., and Shawna Rogers, of Rome, Ga., each pleaded guilty in Cherokee County Circuit Court to one count of attempted elder abuse, according to a news release from Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall's office.
Each was sentenced to two years' imprisonment, which was suspended, and they were placed on three years of probation, officials said. Curry was required to surrender her nursing license, and each defendant will be barred from working in health care facilities.
Curry was a licensed practical nurse, and Allen and Rogers were certified nursing assistants at Cherokee County Health and Rehabilitation Center in Centre, where the incident happened.
Investigators said Curry, Allen and Rogers were responsible for the woman's care the night of Sept. 3, 2016, and into the next morning, when the bugs attacked the 84-year-old victim.
"They all charted that they had entered the room numerous times throughout the night. A review of the surveillance video showed none of the three entered the room for approximately 11 hours," Marshall said in the statement released earlier this year. "When the resident was checked on it was discovered that she had suffered approximately 100 ant bites."
During that time, the resident incurred ant bites on her thighs, knees and ankles. The bites were not discovered until the next morning, officials said.
Authorities said intentional neglect directly contributed to the woman's injuries.
In his February statement on the arrests, Marshall commended Cherokee County Health and Rehabilitation Center officials for their "quick reporting of the incident."
Administrator Cindy Cline said at the time of the arrests that facility officials "immediately intervened" as soon as the biting ants were discovered, and Curry, Allen and Rogers were "immediately relieved of duty."
"Alabama law recognizes that the care of those who are vulnerable is a serious responsibility, and those who are entrusted with this charge have a legal obligation to properly fulfill their duties," Marshall said. "These defendants not only failed to provide adequate care, but they were shown to have lied about their negligence that resulted in harm and injury to a nursing home patient."
This story was updated Dec. 12 at 11:12 p.m.