Are Patients in Phoenix Nursing Homes Safe?

The nation was shocked several weeks ago when reports of sexual abuse at a Phoenix nursing home were released. A woman who has been at the Hacienda HealthCare facility for 26 years gave birth to a baby boy on December 29.

The incident has shed light on Hacienda’s practices, and re-ignited the conversation about nursing home abuse in Phoenix.

Most of the Staff Weren’t Aware She Was Pregnant

Local media outlets reported that none of the staff at Hacienda knew the woman was pregnant, and they only knew she was going into labor because she was moaning.

The two biggest questions following this news were:

  • How could this happen?
  • Why didn’t anyone notice?

The woman’s family said her disabilities stem from seizures that occurred early in her childhood, and that she is not in a coma, as early media reports suggested. While she doesn’t speak, the family said she does have the limited ability to move her limbs, head and neck. They also said she can respond to sounds and is able to make facial gestures.

The 29-year-old woman, a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, has been at the facility since she was 3 years old.

The Mother and Baby Are Safe

Quite shockingly, the woman and baby are both safe. The baby boy was released from the hospital following monitoring, and is now in the care of his maternal family.

Doctors have said this situation was extremely dangerous, and the fact that there weren’t complications is surprising since the mother received no prenatal care.

The Fallout from the Incident

On January 23, police arrested Nathan Dorceus Sutherland, a 36-year-old licensed nurse who was responsible for the woman’s care, and charged him with one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse. DNA testing revealed he is the baby’s father.

Bill Timmons, Hacienda HealthCare’s Chief Executive Officer, resigned a few days after the news broke. Not long after, the company announced that the two doctors who were responsible for the woman’s care are no longer on site. One of the doctors resigned, while the other was suspended.

Are the Other Patients Safe?

Aside from the health of the mother and the baby boy, the most pressing concerns for officials were protecting the other residents at the Hacienda HealthCare facility and ensuring safety measures are up to standards.

Investigators from the Arizona Department of Economic Security visited the facility, and following their investigation, the department ordered management to implement “heightened safety measures.” New protocol dictates that male staff members who need to enter the room of a female patient must bring another female employee with them.

Trust an Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer in Phoenix

This Hacienda woman’s story is truly heartbreaking and alarming. While the facility is being forced to deal with the repercussions and ramifications of its actions – or lack thereof – this case justifies the importance of nursing home abuse lawyers in such heinous and disturbing cases.

If you or a loved one has suffered from abuse, maltreatment or neglect, call the nursing home abuse lawyers in Phoenix at Miller Kory Rowe LLP at (602) 461-8640.

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