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Arizona Governor Ducey wants nursing home oversight board axed after failures

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Posted at 3:06 PM, May 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 21:40:36-04

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has vetoed routine legislation reauthorizing the board that issues licenses and certifications for managers of nursing homes and assisted living facility managers.

The governor said instead of allowing the Board of Examiners of Nursing Care Institution Administrators and Assisted Living Facility Managers to operate for eight more years it should be eliminated.

In the letter addressing the veto, the governor said the board's responsibilities would be transferred to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

“I look forward to working with the Legislature to transfer all licensing and regulation of nursing care institution administrators and assisted living facility managers to the Arizona Department of Health Services,” the governor said in a statement. “It’s time for accountability and new leadership to supervise these facilities. Our seniors—these are our grandmothers and grandfathers—deserve nothing less.”

The governor cited an investigation by the Arizona Republic into lax board oversight when he issued the veto Monday evening.

The problems include giving a convicted felon a license to run a Prescott nursing home that later had a major coronavirus outbreak.

To read the full letter, click here.

In 2019, a former nurse was charged with sexually assaulting an incapacitated woman who later gave birth at Phoenix long-term care facility, Hacienda Healthcare.

FULL COVERAGE: Hacienda Healthcare investigation

Authorities said Nathan Sutherland was working as a licensed nurse at the facility when he raped the 29-year-old victim, who has been in long-term care since age 3 after suffering a near-drowning. The woman gave birth to a boy at the facility on Dec. 29, 2018. Employees said they had no idea she was pregnant.

RELATED: 911 call that prompted Hacienda Healthcare pregnancy investigation

The surprise birth triggered reviews by state agencies, highlighted safety concerns for patients who are severely disabled or incapacitated, and prompted the resignations of Hacienda's chief executive and one of the victim's doctors.

Investigators say Sutherland's DNA matched a sample from the woman's newborn boy, who is being cared for by her family.

Sutherland has pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual abuse and abuse of a vulnerable adult.