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Hacienda Healthcare’s Negligence is Appalling

This could have been prevented.

Hacienda Heathcare facility is home to the medically fragile, chronically ill, or those who deal with developmental disabilities. Despite discoveries of financial fraud and a low score from the state of Arizona, the facility remained open. Its negligence extended further after an unnamed woman in a vegetative state gave birth to a child on December 29, 2018.

The woman, now 29, has been in the facility for 26 years after experiencing a near drowning incident at the age of 3. Staff at the medical center say they were not aware the victim was pregnant until she went into labor.

Since the baby’s birth, Phoenix police received a warrant to collect DNA from all male staff members, both past and present. That’s how police captured her rapist, Nathan Sutherland, who use to work as a nurse at Hacienda. Sutherland worked at the center since 2011 and was the nurse in charge of looking after the woman he eventually attacked.

The abuse at Hacienda raises multiple questions. One of the primary ones being how did this happen? Well, Hacienda doesn’t have security cameras. Despite the constant observation this woman would have, or should have, been under someone attacked her. Then for about 8 to 9 months of having a baby grow inside her stomach, the staff was oblivious to what had happened.

This poor girl never got to grow up. While she has the body of a 29-year-old, she’s still mentally 3 years old. She never got to develop as a person and her family put her in this facility believing she would be well-cared for.

Her abuse also begs another question. How long was this going on? She has been in this facility for 26 years. How do we know she hasn’t been abused before? How do we know other patients haven’t?

Hacienda’s lack of responsibility and respect for their patients is evident. The fact that Sutherland took advantage of a helpless woman is disgusting. No one should have to endure what she did.

We can’t forget the second victim of this story. The baby boy that was born as a result of this incident. His mother is on a feeding tube and since they did not know she was pregnant, who knows if this baby got the proper nutrients as a result.

No check-ups were done. No extra care was taken to make sure he would start life out healthy. It took 4 minutes for the workers to resuscitate the baby after he wasn’t breathing. 4 minutes without oxygen to the brain.

Since the tragic incident at Hacienda, the facility has hired Rick Romley to conduct an internal review. This review could bring more tragic stories to light and I hope the victims get justice.

It’s hard to say what a happy ending to this story would be. I hope Sutherland receives the sentence he deserves. That would be a start. Workers at the Hacienda Facility need to be held accountable. Had they had better security and paid more attention, this may not have happened.

No date yet is set as to when Romley’s investigation will end or when Sutherland’s trial will begin.

 Image courtesy of Rolling Stone


Also published on Medium.

Davyn is a journalism student at Arizona State University. During her free...