PHOENIX — The CEO has stepped down, state investigators with the Department of Economic Security and Health have launched an investigation, and Phoenix police are trying to figure out how a woman in a vegetative state at the Hacienda Healthcare facility suddenly went into labor and gave birth to a baby boy.
As the healthcare facility is thrust into the national spotlight, one of the primary caregivers who cared for the victim for many years spoke with ABC15.
The former Hacienda employee describes the victim as non-communicative in every way. She could not walk, or even use sign language to communicate with others. The caregiver said the nursing home room the victim stayed in, along with a day room where she was usually transported to via wheelchair, were the only worlds this woman knew. The staff who cared for her was the only human contact she had for most of her life.
The woman's family came to visit once every few months. The caregiver said they usually came in a very large group of about 15 people.
The caregiver said hearing the news of the woman giving birth to a child felt like a punch to the gut. The caregiver cried over the woman who could not speak up to defend herself, or point law enforcement to the man who sexually violated her because there was no way a woman in her condition could ever give consent.
This caregiver was also angry and questioned how medical staff who cared for the woman every day could have missed the obvious signs of pregnancy.
"I can't believe it at all. I can't believe someone would bathe her daily for nine months, never know she wasn't having her period, she wasn't growing in her mid-section. That nurses weren't keeping track of her weight, those things are just shocking to me," said the caregiver.
The caregiver also said that staff was required to perform bed-checks on all patients every 15 minutes.
We asked the caregiver if bed-checks had been taking place while they were employed at the facility.
"Sporadically. I know at night people were getting lazy about doing them," said the caregiver. "I find it almost impossible that a medical facility couldn't figure it out after that much time, that she was going into labor."
Lax security was another big concern the caregiver said they had flagged while working at Hacienda Healthcare.
"Too many entrances, too many opportunities. I myself have come in a back way many times with no one noticing me," said the caregiver.
When asked if the doors had key card entries, the answer was "nope."
Sources have said the baby was delivered in late December. According to the Department of Health Services, the facility has been mandated to operate with more guidelines. These included increased security when it came to visitors, increased staff presence when interacting with patients, and increased monitoring of patient areas.
Hacienda Healthcare previously issued a statement, saying:
As an organization, Hacienda HealthCare stands fully committed to getting to the truth of what, for us, represents an unprecedented matter. We are already conducting a comprehensive internal review of our processes, protocols, and people to ensure that every single Hacienda resident is as safe and well cared for as possible. Anything less than that is unacceptable to our team, our company’s leaders and the communities we serve.