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Nursing home faces fine in fire ant attack

09/19/2002 12:00 AM, Associated Press

TYLER — A bedridden 91-year-old woman was bitten more than 600 times by fire ants in a Tyler nursing home, medical records show.

State officials are recommending that Clairmont Tyler Nursing Center pay $1,500 a day in fines for failing to protect the woman from the swarm.

The Texas Department of Human Services has not yet determined how many days the penalty would cover.

The woman who suffered the bites in the Aug. 23 attack was placed in a different nursing home following her discharge from a Tyler hospital last week.

"We did have an isolated case of fire ants in a confined area," Clairmont Administrator Zach Allen told the Tyler Morning Telegraph in Wednesday editions. "Our residents in that area were moved to a different location."

Allen said the area was treated, and no additional ants were seen.

The woman, who had suffered a fractured hip, was unable to get out of bed or use the call light to summon help, state inspectors found.

She was taken to the hospital after family members discovered her moaning and covered in ants.

Officials from the Texas Department of Human Services determined the victim's roommate "had a long history of hoarding food and throwing food on the floor of the room, therefore increasing the risk of attracting ants."

Inspectors said Clairmont administrators were informed a day before the attack that ants had been seen in several residents' rooms. An exterminator was called.

Employees were told to watch for ants, but none were instructed how to monitor or protect residents, state officials said.

Clairmont faces a variety of potential enforcement actions.

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