Hacienda HealthCare CEO resigns after vegetative patient gives birth in Phoenix
The chief executive of a private healthcare facility in Phoenix has resigned after a woman in a vegetative state recently gave birth, putting the spotlight on the safety of long-term care settings for patients who are severely disabled or incapacitated.
- The woman has been in a vegetative state for more than 10 years after a near-drowning
- In the wake of the reports, new safety measures have been implemented
- The facility has been subject to multiple complaints going back to 2012
Hacienda HealthCare boss Bill Timmons has stepped down, spokesman David Leibowitz said.
The decision was unanimously accepted by the provider’s board of directors.
Local news website Azfamily.com first reported the woman, who had been in a vegetative state for more than 10 years after a near-drowning, delivered a baby on December 29.
Her identity has not been reported, and it is not known if she has a family or a guardian.
It is also unclear if staff members at the Hacienda de Los Angeles facility were unaware of the pregnancy until the birth.
In a statement, board member Gary Orman said the facility, “will accept nothing less than a full accounting of this absolutely horrifying situation”.
“We will do everything in our power to ensure the safety of every single one of our patients and our employees,” Mr Orman said.
The birth has triggered a police investigation and reviews by state agencies.
Governor Doug Ducey’s office called the situation “deeply troubling”.
Phoenix police said the matter was under investigation and declined further comment.
The Hacienda facility serves infants, children and young adults who are “medically fragile” or have developmental disabilities, according to the website.
In the wake of the reports, the Arizona Department of Health Services said new safety measures had been implemented.
They include increased staff presence during any patient interaction, more monitoring of patient care areas and additional security measures involving visitors.
Employee fired for sexual comments about patients
The state’s online complaint database for care facilities shows multiple complaints about Hacienda de Los Angeles going back to 2013.
Most of them involve fire drill and evacuation preparation or Medicaid eligibility.
But one complaint from December 2013 outlines an allegation that a staff member made inappropriate sexual comments about four patients two months earlier.
Nobody relayed the incidents to an administrator. That employee was later fired.
Martin Solomon, a personal injury attorney in Phoenix whose clients are mostly vulnerable adult victims of abuse and neglect, said a lawyer representing this woman should call for all pertinent medical records, a list of current and ex-employees and any past litigation involving Hacienda.
It would be the police who would lead DNA testing to figure out who fathered the baby, Mr Solomon said.