A 29-year-old woman in a vegetative state has given birth to a baby boy in a Phoenix-area nursing home. The woman, a confirmed member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, has lived in a vegetative state since she was 15 and nearly drowned. The birth was a complete surprise to staff, not only because her condition makes her unable to consent or engage in sexual activity, but because they were completely unaware of her pregnancy until she went into labor.
Through their lawyer, the woman’s family released a statement, saying in part “The family is obviously outraged, traumatized and in shock by the abuse and neglect of their daughter at Hacienda Healthcare.”
Facility Has Persistent Low Ratings, but Promises to Take Accountability for Rape
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) the nursing home, Hacienda Nursing Facility, is a 74-bed non-profit facility that cares for those with intellectual disabilities.
The facility is currently rated “much below average,” a one out of 5 star rating on CMS’ Nursing Home Compare website. Their last inspection was December 2017 and the facility racked up 6 citations, from failing to maintain resident dignity while showering to faulty charting resulting in incomplete medical records for residents. The facility’s 2016 inspection had a similar outcome, with the facility also receiving 6 citations.
Hacienda has been cooperating with authorities. After Phoenix police launched an official investigation last Friday, Bill Timmons, the CEO of the parent company, Hacienda HealthCare, resigned on Monday. On Tuesday, police gathered DNA samples from male employees of the facility in an effort to link the possible perpetrator to the infant boy through a genetic match.
Hacienda Healthcare board member Gary Orman told the media that the facility will do “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.”
Worth noting is the facility’s current staffing rating according to CMS. Hacienda Nursing Facility is currently rated 1 out of 5 stars for staffing, or much below average. The low score is due to the facility’s non-compliance with submitting staffing data through the new payroll-based journal system, an e-submission that ensures facilities are unable to be less than forthcoming with staff hours. It is unclear why the facility has not submitted staffing data to CMS, but the obvious interpretation is that the reasons are likely not good.
Sexual Assaults and Rapes in Nursing Homes
As one of Chicago’s top nursing home abuse and neglect firms, Levin & Perconti is unfortunately no stranger to cases of sexual assault and rape within nursing facilities. Our firm has successfully handled cases involving sexual humiliation of residents, outright rape, and sexual assault. While the case in Arizona is especially shocking, it highlights an undercover problem in nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities. Residents with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and cognitive difficulties are unable to consent to sexual activity. Period. There is no loophole here. Those who lack the mental and/or physical ability to give consent and are found to have engaged in sexual activity are victims. Yet despite this clear law, cases of rape, assault, and sexual abuse still persist.
Adequate staffing is paramount in preventing any form of abuse or neglect in a nursing facility. As more news comes to light from the investigation into the alleged rape at Hacienda, it is likely that low staffing will be named as a key factor in how something so horrifying could ever happen to a woman and a family that have already suffered so much.
If you suspect or know of sexual abuse, assault, or rape of a loved one within a nursing home, Levin & Perconti can help you get answers and demand justice. With nearly 3 decades of experience, we have both the resources and proven results required to hold nursing homes accountable. Contact us now for a free consultation: 312-332-2872 in Chicago, toll-free at 1-877-374-1417, or by completing our online case evaluation form.