Third Party To Run Phoenix Hacienda HealthCare Center Where Comatose Woman Had Baby

By Kathy Ritchie, Steve Goldstein
Associated Press
Published: Thursday, January 17, 2019 - 8:07am
Updated: Thursday, January 17, 2019 - 12:07pm
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Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
Hacienda HealthCare facility in Phoenix.

The parents of an Arizona comatose woman who gave birth last month as a result of a rape hope an outside review of the Phoenix facility where she lived will lead to change, a lawyer for the family said Wednesday.

In a statement, attorney John Micheaels said the woman's family expects the independent review of management practices and procedures to be transparent and prevent further patient abuse.

Meanwhile, Hacienda officials said state regulators ordered them Wednesday to hire an independent management team to run the Phoenix facility.

In a statement, Hacienda's board of directors said it was taking the matter under advisement.

Hacienda HealthCare on Monday hired former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley to lead an investigation.

Phoenix police launched a criminal investigation when the 29-year-old women, has been in Hacienda's care since she became incapacitated at age 3 after suffering a near-drowning, gave birth Dec. 29.

A nurse who cared for the victim during her delivery said in a 911 call that she was unaware that the comatose patient was pregnant. Investigators are gathering DNA from all men who worked at the facility.

Hacienda CEO Bill Timmons resigned a week ago after news surfaced of the sexual assault.

The facility serves infants, children and young adults who are "medically fragile" or have developmental disabilities, according to its website.

Micheaels said the woman's family is disappointed the leaders of Hacienda HealthCare have not apologized for their "inexcusable failure to protect and safeguard" their daughter.

At this point, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) and the state Department of Health Services have conducted numerous onsite visits to Hacienda since the incident last month, and what they found led them to issue what they’re calling “corrective action letters.”

Specifically, they’re directing Hacienda to retain a third-party manager to monitor and oversee operations of the Intermediate Care Facility, which is where the young woman at the center of this story was living, and also in their skilled nursing facility. This qualified third party will have to assess each resident and establish things like care plans, and Hacienda will be responsible for the cost, according to the letter.

That letter was sent yesterday from AHCCCS and the Department of Economic Security. But on Jan. 7, we now know, AHCCCS sent its first letter with a laundry list of corrective actions following an onsite review conducted around December 31, 2018. One set of actions includes sexual transmitted disease testing for all male and female residents, as well as pregnancy testing for some female patients.

KJZZ's Kathy Ritchie caught up with State Representative Jennifer Longdon Thursday morning. Longdon is a wheelchair user and a disability advocate. She was part of a stakeholder meeting that took place yesterday at the Governor’s office

"So, the take away from the meeting, I believe, clearly this is an issue that everyone now takes very seriously, that steps are being taken immediately, actions are happening and they’re difficulty to discuss because there are confidentially rules around this," Longdon said.

She also made a pledge to continue talking about the issue of sexual abuse and vulnerable populations.  

"And to continue to meet to find the right path forward to make sure we are serving everyone in our community including those individuals in group settings whether they are members of the DD community or aging community or individuals who are deaf or living with other types of disabilities we need to ensure their safety and well being is protected," Longon said.

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