PHOENIX — The governor of Arizona is now calling for a Phoenix long-term care facility where an incapacitated woman was raped to be prosecuted on a wide range of charges.
The 29-year-old woman, who is non-verbal and cannot move on her own, gave birth to a baby boy at the end of December. Hacienda staff were not aware she was pregnant.
She has been a patient at Hacienda Healthcare's for more than two decades. She and the baby are recovering. Her nurse was arrested after his DNA matched the child's.
Gov. Doug Ducey requested that Attorney General Mark Brnovich take action after the Arizona Department of Economic Security said Tuesday that Hacienda Healthcare did not meet a deadline to have an outside manager take over operations.
In a letter obtained by 12 News, Ducey urges Brnovich to:
- Prosecute Hacienda and its leaders with offenses connected to the rape of the patient whose pregnancy was a surprise to Hacienda staff
- Investigate potential civil rights violations connected to allegations of sexual harassment of Hacienda staff and potential financial fraud
- Seek penalties requiring board members to give up their interests in the business
Last week, the Republican governor called for the removal of the Hacienda board, without saying how that might be done.
Arizona regulators revealed Tuesday that Hacienda failed to strike a deal with an outside manager that would find out what was wrong at the facility and to come up with a plan to fix it.
Hacienda's failure to hire Indiana-based Benchmark Health Services was also a target of Ducey's outrage.
Ducey's says in his letter to Brnovich that Hacienda claimed it couldn't afford the anticipated $500,000 cost of hiring Benchmark, despite the prior CEO taking home a salary of $600,000.
"These facts do not add up," the governor wrote.
Neither Hacienda nor Benchmark have publicly disclosed the cost of their proposed agreement.
You can read the full text of Ducey's letter below. If you're having trouble seeing this, click here.
A Brnovich spokesman said of Ducey's letter: "We've received the letter and will pass it along to our criminal attorneys. We can't comment on what our office is already doing."
Last month, Arizona regulators ordered Hacienda HealthCare to hire and pay for an outside manager to run the facility. The deadline for the hire was Jan. 23; the new facility manager needed to be in place by Jan. 30.
Hacienda Healthcare released a statement on Jan. 30 implying that it had hired Benchmark Health Services to run the facility.
DES and the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System announced Tuesday that Hacienda Healthcare failed to reach a definitive agreement with Benchmark.
Hacienda Healthcare responded:
"Hacienda was unable to reach a final contract with Benchmark in the short time frame imposed, as the vetting process was still underway. We will continue to do everything in our power to keep our patients safe, to make sure they get the best possible medical care and to comply with directives issued by the state of Arizona."
Benchmark Health Services released a statement Wednesday:
"Benchmark had six highly qualified staff on the grounds at Hacienda last week working on a root cause analysis and quality review per State directives. Additionally, we identified and brought on board two administrators to oversee the ICF and Skilled Nursing facilities. At the end of the week, when an agreement could not be reached, we reluctantly stopped this very important effort. Benchmark greatly hopes a solution is found that ensures the quality of care and safety of the residents at Hacienda."
State regulators ordered more than two dozen fixes to be made at Hacienda Healthcare, including security improvements and offering pregnancy and STD testing to all patients.
The state has demanded that Hacienda outline, in detail, its plan to comply with all directives by the end of this week.
Benchmark spokeswoman Courtney Heiser said in an email to 12 News:
"Benchmark had six highly qualified staff on the grounds at Hacienda last week working on a root cause analysis and quality review per state directives. Additionally, we identified and brought on board two administrators to oversee the ICF and Skilled Nursing facilities. At the end of the week, when an agreement could not be reached, we reluctantly stopped this very important effort. Benchmark greatly hopes a solution is found that ensures the quality of care and safety of the residents at Hacienda."