Two CNAs were sentenced this Wednesday to two years in prison for taking degrading photos and videos of patient in their care.
The two women, age 52 and 37, plead guilty last year to four counts of health care abuse after an investigation revealed that they took numerous nude photos of their patients, some dating back to 2007. Both were certified as nursing assistants at Pigeon Forge Care and Rehabilitation Center in Pigeon Forge, TN.
Among the photos was a picture of an elderly man lying naked on the floor, a topless elderly woman lying in bed wearing a diaper, and another of a naked man sitting on a toilet wearing a necklace. Another photo was taken of patients with food on their faces. The pictures were kept on a cell phone. None were posted on Facebook or published anywhere, though one of the CNAs shared some of the pictures with her husband.
Many of the adults under their care had cognitive disabilities, from mild dementia to severe Alzheimer's.
The photos were reportedly found on the phone of one of the women after she had lost it. Nursing home administrators saw the pictures while trying to determine the owner of the phone. Both women admitted to taking the pictures, and were fired from the nursing home. Both women have since been banned from working in a health care facility again.
Both were given the maximum punishment allowed by law, despite their attempt to get probation. One of the women testified that the pictures were for personal memories and called the patients "adorable." The sentencing judge, however, didn't buy it. The other simply apologized.
Both women will begin serving their sentence on February 19.
The women in this case were convicted for violating their patients' right to privacy and decency. While there wasn't any evidence of physical or sexual abuse, this type of activity happens far too often to elderly persons in nursing homes.
Source: m.knownews.com, "Pigeon Forge Nursing Home Aides Get Prison," Natalie Neysa Alund, 19 Jan 2011.