Hacienda HealthCare announced that they are closing their 60-bed intermediate care facility in Phoenix. In December a patient at the facility gave birth after a nurse raped her. The board announced the closure this week after the boarded voted to close the facility on Friday, February 1.
In a memo to Fox10 in Phoenix, Hacienda officials wrote,
“After careful consideration, the Board of Directors have come to understand that it is simply not sustainable for us to continue to operate our ICF-ID (Intermediate Care Facility for the Intellectually Disabled). Thus, we will begin to transition clients and eventually cease operation.”
The decision came after a staff member raped a patient. A 29-year-old woman delivered a baby at the facility in December. According to the family, the woman could not walk or talk.
Phoenix police launched an investigation into the rape. After DNA testing matched a suspect, police announced the arrest of Nathan Sutherland. Sutherland worked as a licensed practical nurse and cared for the woman.
State officials had been working with Hacienda HealthCare to review their facility, staffing, and practices. The state required Hacienda HealthCare to find a third party manager to manage the facilities. Arizona Medicaid demanded the facility test residents for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.
Hacienda HealthCare attempted to hire Indiana based Benchmark Human Services to run their Phoenix facility. However, Benchmark and Hacienda HealthCare failed to reach a contract agreement. When the company was unable to find a third-party manager, the state announced that the facility was not in compliance with state directives.
Days later the company announced they would be unable to meet the demands of the state and will close their doors. Additionally, they plan to work with state regulators to transition the care of their residents to other facilities.
After hearing the announcement, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey shared his frustration about the closing. He said the state had been working with the facility to provide additional oversight to ensure patient safety. Also, Ducey expressed his sadness for the families and residents that closure impacts.
“For some patients at the facility, this is the only home they know or remember,” Ducey spokesman Patrick Ptak said. “Forcing this medically fragile community to move should be a last resort. Everyone’s first priority should be protecting their health and safety.”
Now Ducey has requested that the State Attorney General’s Office conduct a criminal investigation into the facility. His office is also pressing state agencies to implement new regulations to ensure the safety of patients with disabilities.
Families of residents will now be tasked to find new facilities to care for their loved ones. There are state-run intermediate-care facilities. However, both facilities are currently full. Another private facility may be able to accommodate some of the patients. But they may not be able to manage the influx of so many new residents at one time.
In an attempt to alleviate this stress, Hacienda HealthCare promised to work with families and the state to transition all residents to new locations. Several families have already removed their loved ones from the facility.Karina Cesena, a mother to a former patient, told Fox10 she moved her daughter out of the facility shortly after she learned of the rape. She said she feared greatly for her daughter’s safety. Cesena is happy that Hacienda HealthCare would close down.
Arc of Arizona said they weren’t surprised with the closure,
“Given what happened recently it’s not surprising and I don’t think it’s going to break too many people’s hearts that a facility that did such a poor job of taking care of vulnerable adults is no longer in business,” said Jon Meyers, executive director of The Arc of Arizona, a non-profit advocacy organization that represents Arizonans with intellectual disabilities.
Despite the shutdown, the investigations into the facility by the state will continue. Nathan Sutherland’s case will continue to move through the court system. He pled not guilty to the charges of rape.
Indeed, the closure will impact the families of residents. However, a facility that cannot protect their residents should not remain open. Hacienda HealthCare failed all residents by allowing the sexual assault of a patient. They made matters worse by failing to diagnose the woman’s pregnancy.
Hopefully, the families will be able to find alternatives to help care for their loved ones. Ultimately, Hacienda HealthCare was unable to weather the storm of bad publicity, legal investigations, and state regulators to remain open. They failed the 29-year-old woman, their residents, and staff that will now be without employment.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.
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