The Arizona Tribune

Hacienda Healthcare to Remain Open after the State’s Intervention

One after the announcement of the closure of the intermediate care facility of Hacienda Healthcare, the State had to intervene to keep the healthcare remain open.

Hacienda Healthcare became infamous when a rape by a full-time nurse was reported, the victim being physically and mentally challenged.

A joint statement from the Arizona Department of Economic Security and the state’s Medicaid program states, “Given the high medical risks associated with transferring these patients, moving this medically fragile community is the option of last resort and not the state’s goal.”

Officials with those two departments on Friday tried to push Hacienda’s announcement stating closure of the 60-bed facility at 1402 E. South Mountain Ave. The state, however, gave an ultimatum: “Bring in a third-party manager or allow the state health department to assume licensing authority. Hacienda had until 4 pm to respond.”

Hacienda Healthcare reportedly has chosen the latter, allowing the Arizona Department of Health Services to take over licensing authority over Hacienda’s intermediate-care facility for people with intellectual disabilities. Though, an agreement between the two entities is yet to be reached.

Heidi Capriotti, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, which is the state’s Medicaid program, said, allowance of the State authority gives it more oversight over the operations.

Currently, the facility is not licensed by the State owing to a 1997 Arizona law that exempts intermediate-care facilities from state licensing. In this session, two Arizona senators have introduced a bill to remove that exemption after the news about Hacienda came to light.

As far as the State’s report, the facility is serving 37 patients. The facility’s patients are of 16 to 68 years of age, and most are listed as “non-ambulatory.”

The patient who was raped is 29 years old and belongs to the San Carlos Apache Tribe. She has a seizure disorder and is described in court documents as being non-verbal, incapacitated and needing a “maximum level of care.”

On December 29, the patient gave birth to a baby boy, and a call to 911 from the staff stated that they were not aware that the patient was pregnant.

On January 23, Nathan Sutherland, 36, a licensed practical nurse was arrested, who was appointed by the non-profit for serving the patient. Nathan has been charged with one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse.

Hacienda board President Thomas R. Pomeroy wrote to AHCCCS and DES in a letter dated Friday stating after the incident the State’s number of directives to Hacienda over the last month has been “often rushed and onerous.”

On the State’s demand over Hacienda, Pomeroy wrote, “we appreciate you telling us that the state did not intend to close down, the intermediate-care facility, we could not agree more that the safety and well-being of our residents are of paramount priority and that we should collectively work to ensure that our residents and their families have maximum flexibility in choosing where they reside.”

He also wrote that as far as improvements are concerned at Hacienda, the facility retained three armed off-duty police officers 24 hours per day, seven days per week, and has installed 30 internal cameras to capture all common areas and entrances and exits from the building. In addition to that, Hacienda is continuing with 15-minute checks on all patient rooms and is in the process of retaining a director of security.

Governor’s Office-

Patrick Ptak, a spokesman for Gov. Doug Ducey, said in a released statement, “This is good news and the best immediate outcome as it means Hacienda patients and families would be allowed to say in the home they’ve known for years while ensuring new and enhanced protections and oversight are put in place.”

“Due to the medically fragile condition of this community, keeping patients where they reside was always our preferred choice and the safest option for patients.”

“Our agencies will continue to work with Hacienda to implement a voluntary regulatory agreement with strong oversight and accountability measures that ensure safety and quality care going forward for patients.”

Ducey on Tuesday told the Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich to investigate the intermediate healthcare on the charges of financial fraud and sexual harassment.

In a letter, Governor Ducey wrote that it was concerning to see Hacienda Healthcare’s non-cooperation with the State to assure the essential care to the vulnerable population.

The State has ordered Hacienda to install a third-party manager, and for some days Benchmark Human Services of Indiana took over the operation at the site. But the Benchmark and Hacienda could not reach an agreement, leading the Benchmark to leave Hacienda.

However, after the State’s intervention, a statement from the Arizona Department of Health Services has been released which states, the agreement between the Hacienda healthcare and the state health department “will ensure the ongoing safety of the residents at Hacienda.”

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