PHOENIX — The departing chief executive of Hacienda Healthcare blames a mass exodus of top leadership on board members' refusal to make changes at the troubled Phoenix facility for intellectually disabled patients.
"Each of us have worked tirelessly to address Hacienda Healthcare’s issues with the goal of surviving so that we can continue the work that we care about deeply," Patrick White wrote in an email Wednesday to the board, which was obtained by 12 News.
"However, certain members of the Hacienda Board of Directors have been in an intractable battle with State Government which has complicated our ability to be successful. Certain Board member’s refusal to acquiesce to the demands for change at the Board level, among many other things, make the situation both futile and intolerable."
White warned board members that after government agencies are informed of the mass departures, "there may be an immediate request to move Hacienda’s patients."
The exodus of almost a dozen management employees is the latest, and perhaps the most damaging blow to Hacienda, as it staggers to recover from the birth of a baby last December to an incapacitated patient who had been raped. Hacienda staff wasn't aware the woman was pregnant
Hacienda operates four care facilities, including the facility where the patient was raped.
According to emails obtained by 12 News, nine top executives have submitted their resignations.
The executives oversee finance, nursing, patient care, compliance, clinical care, support services and operations.
Board member Kevin Berger also resigned, along with former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, who had been hired by Hacienda to handle an internal investigation of the sexual assault.
Among the executives is vice president of corporate communications Nancy Salmon. Salmon and her husband, former Congressman Matt Salmon, have been involved with Hacienda for more than 25 years.
Salmon said in an email to White:
"I greatly respect Rick Romley and his work, and with his resignation there must be more to the story than I have previously known. That alone makes me very uncomfortable continuing to work here."
Romley's resignation letter, obtained by 12 News, echoes White's concerns with the Hacienda board.
"I do not believe that I am able to continue my work due to several issues involving certain members of Hacienda's Board of Directors," Romley wrote.
Romley and White didn't name the directors. Late in the day Thursday, Board President Thomas Pomeroy announced his resignation.
The Arizona Republic reported last week that Pomeroy may have benefited from insider deals during his four decades at Hacienda.
Gov. Doug Ducey's office told 12 News the Arizona Department of Health Services was notified Thursday of the resignations.
DHS Director Cara Christ said Hacienda staff providing direct care are not affected.
"It's still the same people patients see day to day. Families shouldn't feel an impact," she said.
DHS staff members have been on site at the Phoenix facility monitoring patient safety, she said.
Almost three weeks ago, state officials and Hacienda HealthCare announced an agreement to allow DHS to regulate the Phoenix facility where the patient gave birth. That came after Hacienda threatened to shut down. However, a formal agreement has not been signed.