Arizona governor calls on Hacienda HealthCare’s board of directors to step down
After an incapacitated patient gave birth in December, Hacienda HealthCare leaders could face legal consequences for its poor management of developmentally disabled patients.
The incapacitated woman who unexpectedly gave birth at an Arizona healthcare facility – and who was subsequently revealed to be a victim of rape – may have been raped and impregnated before, her family wrote in court documents.
Family members of the unidentified woman, who'd been receiving long-term care since a near-drowning incident when she was 3, said in a notice of claim that doctors treating her on the December day she gave birth observed signs the pregnancy may not have been her first, FOX10 Phoenix reported.
The doctor’s exam reportedly found lacerations that were several years old and had already healed, according to NBC News, which cited a court document. Doctors said the tears were “not caused as a result of this delivery.”
The documents also allege the woman’s family requested she be attended to by only female nurses – a request they say was ignored by Hacienda Healthcare, according to FOX10 Phoenix.
One licensed practical nurse at the facility, 36-year-old Nathan Sutherland, is accused of raping the 29-year-old victim at the facility and fathering her baby boy. Sutherland has pleaded not guilty.
Employees at the facility at the time said they didn't know the victim was pregnant. Court records said the woman's last known physical was in April — about nine months before she gave birth.
Investigators tested the DNA of all male employees who worked at the facility and later said Sutherland's DNA matched a sample from the newborn child. Sutherland's attorney has challenged that conclusion, however, and contends there's no direct evidence linking his client to the alleged rape.
The Dec. 29 birth triggered reviews by state agencies and highlighted safety concerns for patients who are severely disabled or incapacitated. The incident also prompted the resignations of Hacienda's chief executive and one of the victim's doctors.
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The woman's parents, through their attorney, have disputed previous characterizations that their daughter is comatose or in a vegetative state, according to the Associated Press. They described her as being intellectually disabled because of seizures in early childhood. While she doesn't speak, she has some mobility in her limbs, head and neck. She also responds to sound and can make facial gestures.
Fox News’ Travis Fedschun and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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