One doctor suspended, another resigns at facility where woman in vegetative state gave birth
One doctor has resigned and another has been suspended at the Arizona healthcare facility where a woman in a long-term vegetative state gave birth, surprising her caretakers.
“The two physicians who were responsible for the care of the sexual assault victim are no longer providing medical services to Hacienda patients,” Hacienda HealthCare said in a statement on Monday. The doctors’ identities have not been released.
The 29-year-old woman is thought to have been raped by someone who had access to her room at Hacienda HealthCare, a long-term care facility for children and young adults with chronic conditions in Phoenix, Ariz. The victim had been a patient at the facility since a near-drowning in 1992, when she was just two years old.
Caregivers at Hacienda HealthCare called 911 on Dec. 29 to report a surprise birth involving one of their patients.
“We had no idea she was pregnant,” the caller tells the dispatcher in a recording released earlier this month.
Phoenix police have launched a sexual assault investigation at the facility. They’ve been authorized under a search warrant to collect DNA from all male employees.
Hacienda HealthCare has hired a former prosecutor to determine how the victim was impregnated. The organization has also agreed to hire a third-party manager to oversee its operations through the investigation.
“Once again, we offer an apology and send our deepest sympathy to the client and her family,” the organization said in its statement on Monday. “Hacienda intends to do everything possible to restore its credibility in the eyes of our patients, families, the community and our agency partners at every level.”
Police have said the victim would have been “totally helpless” at the time of the alleged sexual assault.
“She was not in a position to consent to any of this,” police spokesperson Tommy Thompson said at a news conference on Jan. 9. “So if anyone can understand that, this was a helpless victim who was sexually assaulted.”
Hacienda HealthCare’s CEO, Bill Timmons, resigned after news surfaced of the unexpected birth.
A spokesperson for the victim’s family, who belong to the San Carlos Apache tribe, has said her baby boy will be well cared for.
The victim’s parents, through their attorney, said they hope the investigation will be transparent. They also criticized Hacienda officials for not apologizing for their “inexcusable failure to protect and safeguard their vulnerable daughter.”
Police say the victim and the newborn have been recovering in the hospital.
Hacienda announced last week that it’s investigating a separate case of alleged abuse involving two female staffers. A patient at the facility alleges that a registered nurse and a certified caregiver yelled at her and hit her head and arm.
Officials said the two workers have no history of complaints and denied the allegations. They were placed on administrative leave during an investigation.
The patient showed no signs of injury or abuse in a medical exam, and police have not been able to corroborate the allegations.
—With files from The Associated Press
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