PHOENIX — The year was 1999. Hacienda Healthcare, known then as Hacienda de Los Angeles, was just entering its 32nd year of operation in the Valley.
Marla Kica still remembers that first day of work. She says she had a huge office, was supervising 90-plus Hacienda employees, made a six-figure salary, and the non-profit even gave her a company car. For her, life was good.
"I was fresh out of grad school you know, making good money at the time and they're offering me a car?" said Kica. "It's just kind of how - how they start edging their way into your life."
Kica says things started to change a few years in, especially after she became a part of the internal review committee which looked into incidents at the facility. She says it ranged from from slips and falls down to bed sores on patients. Every final report and recommendation would eventually make its way to Bill Timmons, her direct supervisor and the CEO of Hacienda Healthcare.
"You knew that you filled out an incident report and four or five people saw it before he (Timmons) looked it over and put his signature on it," said Kica. "So the likelihood of the information being reported correct was very-very low."
But it was the culture that started to get to Marla.
Kica said it was a "don't ask - don't tell" type of deal. People were afraid of Timmons. She says there were also bonuses - financial gain for employees to keep the slate clean when it came to reporting problems.
"I don't know how much other people were offered," said Kica. "I received a lot of bonuses. A lot."
Kica says bonuses ranged from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars.
"If you went so many days without an incident then you would get a bonus," said Kica. "Well, that quickly - I didn't get that. You know illness is dynamic, people are dynamic. Things happen; people get hurt, people fall, people get infections. You know these things happen and it's ok that they happen."
Two other employees also telling ABC15 bonuses are routinely handed out. One former department lead who wanted to remain anonymous says there's a "three-strike rule."
Three reported incidents and you don't get a bonus - so the former employee says it's in a person's best interest to keep quiet.
Tim Jeffries, the former head of the Arizona Department of Economic Security, says his office started investigating the company in 2016 after allegations Hacienda billed the state millions in fraudulent charges. He too has heard of incentives for not reporting.
"I've heard rumors," said Jeffries. "I'm not surprised that the tone at the top, the money grubbing tone at the top catalyzed a potential bonus program that motivated people financially not to report incidents."
Kica believes the culture of non-reporting to keep bonuses could have played a role in the most recent case at Hacienda when a patient, unable to move or speak - delivered a baby. She believes staff could have been too afraid months ago to mention something was wrong.
"He put so much distance between him and that client that people are so fearful of him," said Kica.
ABC15 reached out to Timmons for a comment on this story. We have not heard back.