Woman in Vegetative State for a Decade Gives Birth at Arizona Nursing Facility, Prompting Sex Abuse Investigation
The Phoenix Police Department is investigating possible sex abuse at a nursing facility after a female patient recently became pregnant and gave birth.
Sources tell Phoenix television station KPHO/KTVK that the alleged victim has been a patient at the Hacienda HealthCare facility, which is near 16th Street and South Mountain Avenue, for at least a decade after a near-drowning incident left her in a vegetative state. That woman gave birth to a baby boy on Dec. 29.
“None of the staff were aware that she was pregnant until she was pretty much giving birth,” a source familiar with the situation told the station.
When asked how personnel found out she was in labor, the source responded, “From what I’ve been told she was moaning. And they didn’t know what was wrong with her.”
A nurse who was there apparently delivered the baby, according to the source, adding the infant was born healthy and alive.
The patient required around the clock care and would not have been able to convey she was pregnant. Many would have been able to access her room, the source said.
The facility changed protocol this week, she added, telling the station a male staff member needs to bring a female employee with them to enter a woman’s room.
Investigators from multiple agencies are saying next to nothing about the case, but the station reported that at some point last spring or summer, someone sexually assaulted a woman who was in a persistent vegetative state, and she became pregnant.
Hacienda HealthCare spokeswoman Nancy Salmon released the following statement after KPHO/KTVK asked about the case.
“Hacienda Healthcare has been in business in the valley for over 50 years, and has an outstanding reputation providing high quality specialized care for our patients. As a Healthcare provider, we cannot comment on any patient due to Federal and State privacy laws. Additionally, we cannot comment on any ongoing investigations. We can say that our patients and clients health and safety is our #1 priority and that we always cooperate, when asked by any agency, in an open and transparent way.”
The Arizona Department of Health Services also released a statement.
“We are aware of this situation and are actively working with local law enforcement in their criminal investigation. Upon learning of the allegation, Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) immediately initiated an onsite complaint investigation to ensure the health and safety of the patients and ensure the facility is in compliance with all state laws and regulations. During this time, the agency has required heightened safety measures be implemented at the facility including increased staff presence during patient interactions, increased monitoring of the patient care areas, and increased security measures with respect to visitors at the facility.”
The Arizona Department of Economic Security released this statement.
“The Department has been made aware of these allegations and we continue to work fully with the Phoenix Police Department in their ongoing investigation. Upon hearing of these allegations, we immediately dispatched a team to conduct health and safety checks on all members residing at this health care facility, which has been completed. We will continue to work to ensure the safety of all our members.”
Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said “the matter is currently under investigation.”
Founded as Hacienda de Los Angeles in 1967, Hacienda HealthCare describes itself on its website as “the leading provider of specialized medical care and social services for Arizona’s infants, children and young adults who are medically fragile or chronically ill, including those with developmental disabilities.”
The organization says it offers dozens of programs and services through several nonprofit entities under its umbrella.
According to its website, Hacienda HealthCare serves more than 2,500 people throughout Arizona each year.