A lawyer for the family of an incapacitated Arizona woman who gave birth in a long-term care facility revealed she is disabled, but not comatose as previously reported.
The Arizona Republic reported Friday that attorney John Micheaels said the 29-year-old patient has ‘significant intellectual disabilities’ and does not speak but has some ability to move, responds to sounds and is able to make facial gestures.
Phoenix police have said the Native American, who has been incapacitated since age three, was sexually assaulted and delivered a baby last month at Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix, Arizona.
In the wake of the scandal, two doctors at Hacienda are no longer treating patients.
Police have said the 29-year-old Native American woman, who has been incapacitated since age three after a near-drowning, was sexually assaulted and gave birth last month at Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix.
A January 8 statement by San Carlos Apache Tribe officials said the woman, a tribal member, gave birth while in a coma.
Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix where a 29-year-old woman gave birth despite being incapacitated for more than a decade
News media outlets have reported that the woman, who has not been publicly identified, was in a vegetative state at the facility where she spent many years.
‘The important thing here is that contrary to what’s been reported, she is a person, albeit with significant intellectual disabilities. She has feelings and is capable of responding to people she is familiar with, especially family,’ Micheaels told the newspaper.
He responded to a request Saturday by The Associated Press for comment by saying in an email that the information reported in the Republic is correct. He did not comment further.
On Monday, Hacienda HealthCare revealed in a statement that one doctor at the facility has resigned and a second has been suspended.
Attorney John Micheaels said on Friday the 29-year-old woman is not comatose and can move her face
A spokesman for the firm said in a statement: ‘Once again, we offer an apology and send our deepest sympathy to the client and her family.
‘Hacienda intends to do everything possible to restore its credibility in the eyes of our patients, families, the community and our agency partners at every level.’
The woman gave birth to a baby boy on December 29 as staff at Hacienda HealthCare frantically called 911 for assistance, telling an operator that they had not known the 112-pound patient was pregnant.
Police investigators have been collecting DNA samples from male employees at the facility and any other men who could have had contact with the woman. State regulatory officials have also launched investigations.
The victim and the newborn have reportedly been recovering at a hospital, but no information has been released about their conditions.
The woman’s guardian, her mother, described her in a May 29 annual guardian report filed in court as ‘an incapacitated adult.’ An attached doctor’s report said the woman has a brain disorder, a form of retardation, recurrent pneumonia, paralysis of the limbs, seizure disorder and other conditions.
Hacienda spokesman David Leibowitz told the AP on Saturday that patient privacy laws precluded him from discussing the woman’s condition.
On Friday, Hacienda announced that another female patient had alleged physical abuse by staff members.
Hacienda officials said in a news release that the patient accused a registered nurse and a certified caregiver, both women, of yelling at her and hitting her head and arm.
Hacienda officials said the patient showed no signs of injury or abuse and that the two workers had no history of complaints and denied the allegations. They were placed on administrative leave during an investigation.
Police say they were informed about the complaint but weren’t able to corroborate anything.
The revelation that an incapacitated woman was raped inside a care facility has horrified advocates for people with disabilities and the community at large.
The woman’s family, who are members of the San Carlos Apache tribe, said in a statement through their attorney last week that they will care for the infant boy.
Her family also said the company has still not apologized neither publicly nor privately over the scandal.
Hacienda HealthCare CEO Bill Timmons stepped down last month in light of the scandal
Court records describe her condition as ‘flaccid quadriplegia’, and that she is ‘not alert’, needs a ‘maximum level of care’, with tubes to help her breath as well as feed through.
Hacienda HealthCare’s CEO William Timmons resigned on December 31 as the provider announced new safety measures, including more than one staff member being present during patient interactions and more scrutiny of visitors.
A former worker at the healthcare center previously said staff were financial incentives to encourage them not to officially report problems and that there was a climate of fear among her colleagues.
Marla Kica also claimed Timmons would get the final sign off on every final report and recommendation as he was her direct supervisor, that staff were afraid of him.
Regulators wanted to remove developmentally disabled patients from the long-term care facility years before the woman gave birth.
Phoenix police officers are pictured here visiting residents of the home around the time of the holidays in 2014
Members of the Phoenix police department would regularly visit the home during the holidays
The Arizona Republic reported earlier this month that Hacienda HealthCare faced a 2016 criminal investigation for allegedly billing the state more than $4million for bogus 2014 charges for wages, transportation, housekeeping, maintenance and supplies.
The criminal case was dropped in 2017 and no charges were filed, the Republic said, but a court battle is continuing in an effort to force Hacienda to turn over financial records.
San Carlos Apache officials confirmed the woman was an enrolled member of the tribe, whose reservation is in southeastern Arizona about 134 miles east of Phoenix.
Tribal chairman Terry Rambler said: ‘When you have a loved one committed to palliative care, when they are most vulnerable and dependent upon others, you trust their caretakers. Sadly, one of her caretakers was not to be trusted and took advantage of her. It is my hope that justice will be served.’
The woman was an enrolled member of the San Carlos Apache tribe, whose reservation is in southeastern Arizona about 134 miles east of Phoenix. Members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe are seen in a 2014 Facebook photo
The nonprofit Hacienda facility gets more than $20million annually in taxpayer funds for taking care of extremely ill people, many of whom are incapacitated and on ventilators, the Republic reported.
Hacienda’s annual average cost of care was $386,000 per client in 2012 compared with $134,000 per client in similar U.S. facilities, Arizona Department of Economic Security auditors said.
San Carlos Apache Tribal Chairman Terry Rambler
Former economic security director, Timothy Jeffries, and the agency’s chief law enforcement officer, Charles Loftus have both filed lawsuits against the state, claiming they were forced out of their jobs over their probe of Hacienda.
Jeffries was forced to resign in 2016 after a series of controversies, including a finding by the Arizona Department of Public Safety that the department kept shoddy record-keeping, had insecure storage of guns and ammunition and that it had violated state procurement policies in buying some 60,000 rounds of ammunition.
He filed suit against the state in 2017 over what he claims is libel in a police report that detailed a stash of weapons and ammunition kept in the agency offices. He claims statements in the DPS audit were false and that there were malicious motives involved in the report.
The Republic quoted Jeffries as saying Timmons was obstinate during the investigation of Hacienda and bragged of tight ties to Ducey.
Ducey spokeswoman Elizabeth Berry said the governor was horrified by accounts of the rape and denied that the state failed to act on concerns raised by the economic security department.
She also said Hacienda played no part in the forced resignations of Jeffries and Loftus after their two-year tenure.