It was a news story that caught everyone’s attention: an incapacitated woman in a Phoenix nursing facility unexpectedly gave birth, raising questions about who impregnated her and how caregivers failed to notice symptoms for nine months. The case unfolded rapidly as the Hacienda HealthCare CEO resigned and administrators struggled to find answers.
NATION SHOCKED BY SEXUAL ASSAULT CASE IN PHOENIX
Nursing home abuse is a chronic issue across the United States, but rarely does it garner as much attention. As the investigation uncovered more details, family members and advocates across the nation asked some tough questions.
What steps do nursing homes take to protect their patients? How long did the sexual abuse occur before it led to pregnancy? Why did the assault—and subsequent pregnancy—go unnoticed for so long?
And the big question that’s been weighing heavily on everyone’s minds: are conditions the same at other nursing homes across the country?
PATIENTS’ FAMILIES WONDER IF OTHERS MAY HAVE BEEN VICTIMIZED
Shortly after the patient gave birth, investigators began collecting DNA samples from male employees of the care center. Reports indicate that investigators worked around the clock on this case until a suspect was found. After DNA samples were collected, a male LPN at the facility was arrested on a sexual assault charge.
The Phoenix Police Sergeant investigating this case is trying to find out if the LPN may have assaulted other patients at Hacienda HealthCare. Additionally, investigators are unsure if the perpetrator worked at other nursing facilities during this time frame, making it difficult to know how many potential victims exist.
LEGISLATORS PUSH FOR INCREASED OVERSIGHT
There has been substantial fallout from this case. Hacienda HealthCare currently has a contract with the state of Arizona, but state officials are evaluating the contract. Losing the contract could cost the facility a significant amount of money and displace patients.
On a legislative level, this tragic case could lead to improved care for incapacitated residents in Arizona facilities. Arizona lawmakers are drafting legislation that would make state licensure mandatory for intermediate facilities like Hacienda HealthCare. This law would also require every facility to perform background checks on employees that care for patients.
In the meantime, Governor Doug Ducey has put an executive order into place to protect patients with disabilities. The executive order requires annual training in the prevention and recognition of abuse of neglect for employees at state-funded care homes.
WORRIED ABOUT YOUR LOVED ONE IN A PHOENIX CARE FACILITY? WE’RE HERE TO HELP.
Maybe you’ve seen warning signs of abuse in your loved one, or perhaps they’ve spoken up about poor conditions in their nursing home. Schedule a complimentary consultation with Miller Kory Rowe LLP now. Call our Phoenix office today at (602) 648-4045.