Arizona Care Unit Where Patient Was Raped to Stay Open

Clay Curtis
February 10, 2019

The board of directors of Hacienda Healthcare announced Thursday they are shutting down the facility, whose name has become synonymous with patient abuse.

Patients will be transferred out of the facility, a decision which Hacienda said it was working on with state agencies.

Bill Timmons, Hacienda HealthCare's longtime CEO, announced his resignation in the aftermath of a woman in a vegetative state gave birth in a Hacienda facility, on January 7, 2019.

The alleged victim, who CNN is not naming because police are investigating the case as a sexual assault, had been at the long-term-care facility since 1992.

Hacienda HealthCare said in a statement that its board of directors had determined that it was not sustainable to continue operating the Phoenix facility, which serves infants, children and young adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities who require a high level of medical care.

The woman gave birth December 29, much to the shock of her caregivers, one of whom told a 911 dispatcher, "We had no idea she was pregnant".

"Your recent correspondence and statements to the media make it clear that rather than complying with the prior agreement to bring in a third party and without a definite plan to address challenges Hacienda faced with the third party it chose, such as costs, the Board of Directors made a decision to close the facility citing the facility's lack of financial viability", the letter said.

Police say DNA evidence connected from Sutherland and the baby is a match. Sutherland, 36, was a licensed nurse who had worked at the facility since 2011.

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Hacienda has struggled to meet the state's request to hire a third-party management team to oversee daily operations. "We want to find a path forward that is in the best interests of the patients - and this approach is not it".

The Arizona Department of Economic Security suggested officials find a different solution, referring to the decision as "disturbing news", according to the AP. "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.

"They are the ones who should come first, without question", she added.

Ducey, in a letter, also called for the attorney general to seek civil penalties against Hacienda and a reorganization "to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again".

Sutherland pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse earlier this week and remains in a Maricopa County jail in lieu of a $500,000 bail.

"Due to the medically fragile condition of this community, keeping patients where they reside was always our preferred choice and the safest option for patients", he said.

Hacienda officials said in a statement that the safety and health of patients have always been the "paramount priority".

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