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8 Jan, 2019 11:15

CEO of disgraced Arizona care facility resigns after vegetative patient gives birth

CEO of disgraced Arizona care facility resigns after vegetative patient gives birth

The CEO of an Arizona care center where a woman in a vegetative state for over a decade gave birth to a child last month has resigned. Police are continuing a criminal investigation into the scandal.

Hacienda HealthCare CEO Bill Timmons resigned on Monday, with immediate effect, and his resignation was accepted unanimously by the board of directors. Timmons had been chief executive for 28 years.

In a statement sent to local media, Gary Orman, executive vice president of the board at the private healthcare company, said it “will accept nothing less than a full accounting of this absolutely horrifying situation, an unprecedented case that has devastated everyone involved, from the victim and her family to Hacienda staff at every level of our organization.”

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Caregivers at the facility in Phoenix weren’t aware that the woman was pregnant until she began to moan during labor. She had been left in a vegetative state (awake but with no signs of awareness) for over 10 years after almost drowning.  

Hacienda HealthCare is a private company with 40 programs serving 4,500 patients a year, the majority of whom are children and young adults. Police are conducting a criminal investigation but have, as yet, declined to share any details, though local media have reported that subpoenas for DNA samples may be forthcoming.

In addition, the Arizona Department of Economic Security conducted a health and wellbeing check on every patient at the facility and is cooperating with the police investigation.

The care center received a “below average” rating from health inspectors in 2017 but holds a "much below average" rating on the Medicare website. The facility has up to 74 patient beds, according to federal records, while state records show that some patients have lived at the Hacienda facility for decades.

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This is not the first scandal to hit the Hacienda. In 2013, a male employee was found to have made sexually explicit remarks to patients, though no physical or sexual abuse allegations were made and the employee was fired. In 2017, state investigators determined that patients were not afforded sufficient privacy while naked or showering at the facility.

“Federal and state laws guarantee certain basic rights to all residents of this facility and they include the right to a dignified existence and to be treated with dignity,” a report issued at the time read.

“Trust has been broken and severed completely,” Karina Cesena, whose 22-year-old daughter has been a patient at Hacienda for two years, told CBS News. “Everybody was up in shock.”

Police have made no arrests so far and it remains unclear if they have identified any suspects yet in their investigation. RT.com has contacted the Hacienda for comment.

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