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Arizona orders third-party manager for facility where woman in vegetative state gave birth

Bill Timmons, the CEO of private health care facility Hacienda Healthcare, has resigned after reports that a female patient gave birth despite being in a vegetative state for more than a decade, as the patient living at the facility reportedly gave birth Dec. 29 although the staff was unaware the woman was pregnant, the facility shown here Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The group that operates a health care facility in Arizona where a woman in a vegetative state gave birth last month has been ordered to hire a third-party manager to oversee several of its facilities.

“In order to guarantee ongoing improvement, additional oversight is immediately warranted and necessary to protect the medically fragile patients at Hacienda and to assure their loved ones that they are safe and protected,” Arizona Department of Economic Security Director Michael Trailor and Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System Director Jami Snyder wrote in a letter to Hacienda HealthCare.

Hacienda, based in Phoenix, said it will respond soon to the state’s demand.

“Hacienda HealthCare remains fully committed to ensuring the safety of its patients and to making sure that no patient receives anything but the best possible care,” Hacienda said.

The directive comes several days after Hacienda hired former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley to lead an internal review.

The patient, 29, gave birth December 29 at the facility for people in need of long-term medical care. Caregivers were taken by surprise at the birth, telling 911 dispatchers, “We had no idea she was pregnant.”

Police have said the baby was in distress when it was born.

CNN is not reporting the woman’s name because police are investigating the case as a sexual assault.

“This woman was unable to move, she was unable to communicate. In other words, she was helpless,” Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson has said. “This started as a sexual assault investigation from day one.”

She had been at the facility since 1992, according to records.

The woman’s family said Wednesday it approves of Romley’s hiring but attorney John Micheaels said relatives were disappointed that Hacienda “chose not to express any remorse or apology for (its) inexcusable failure to protect and safeguard their vulnerable daughter.”

The state letter said visits by state agencies over the past 2½ weeks raised “several significant concerns.”

Hacienda must hire the manager by next Wednesday and the person needs to be at work by January 30, the state’s letter said.

“The board is considering the best possible option forward — for Hacienda’s patients and their families, for the Hacienda team and for the organization,” Hacienda said.

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