Two Arizona agencies have stepped in to prevent Hacienda HealthCare from closing the unit of its Phoenix facility where an incapacitated woman gave birth late past year after being sexually assaulted. They also argued Hacienda contractually requires written consent from the state Department of Economic Security to close any operation.
Heidi Capriotti, a spokeswoman for the Medicaid program, told the newspaper the state will now have more control over the facility, which has a 60-bed capacity.
The board of directors of Hacienda Healthcare announced Thursday they are shutting down the facility, whose name has become synonymous with patient abuse.
In a statement, Hacienda HealthCare said its board of directors "has come to understand that it is simply not sustainable to continue to operate our Intermediate Care Facility for the Intellectually Disabled", NBC News/Associated Press reported.
A closure would have forced the relocation of almost 40 intellectually disabled patients, some of who are medically fragile.
Nathan Sutherland, a 36-year-old nurse at the facility, which caters to infants, children and young people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, was arrested and charged with one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse in late January, ABC news reported. This comes days after a nurse there pleaded not guilty to a sexual assault charge.
On Wednesday, however, Courtney Heiser with Benchmark released a statement to FOX 10, saying the company failed to reach an agreement with Hacienda at the end of the week last week, and state officials had ordered the facility to outline, in detail, their plan to comply with all issued directives no later than the end of the week. Employees said they had no idea she was pregnant. "We want to find a path forward that is in the best interests of the patients - and this approach is not it". "State agencies are exhausting all efforts to bring this to a conclusion that is beneficial to the patients, some of whom have been at this facility almost their entire lives", the department said.
On December 29, an incapacitated woman shocked workers by giving birth - leading to the eventual arrest of one of her nurses. "This approach simply does not meet that test".
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has called on the state's attorney general's office to investigate and present charges against Hacienda HealthCare.
On Friday, before news that Hacienda will accept voluntary state regulation was announced, some whose loved ones are in the facility say they are upset about the closure. "Forcing this medically fragile community to move should be a last resort".
Under the agreement, Hacienda will have to devise a long-term plan and timeline that prioritizes health and safety at the intermediate care facility where the victim resided.