Cen­ter where co­matose woman had baby faced crim­i­nal probe

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - NEWS -

PHOENIX >> Reg­u­la­tors wanted to re­move de­vel­op­men­tally dis­abled pa­tients from a Phoenix longterm care fa­cil­ity years be­fore a woman in a veg­e­ta­tive state gave birth, Ari­zona’s largest news­pa­per re­ported Sun­day.

The Ari­zona Repub­lic re­ported Ha­cienda Health­Care faced a

2016 crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion for al­legedly billing the state more than $4 mil­lion for bo­gus 2014 charges for wages, trans­porta­tion, house­keep­ing, main­te­nance and supplies.

The crim­i­nal case was dropped in 2017 and no charges were filed, the Repub­lic said, but a court bat­tle is con­tin­u­ing in an ef­fort to force Ha­cienda to turn over fi­nan­cial records.

Phoenix po­lice have said the

29-year-old woman in­ca­pac­i­tated since age 3 was sex­u­ally as­saulted and gave birth last month.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors are col­lect­ing DNA from Ha­cienda’s male em­ploy­ees and oth­ers who may have had con­tact with the woman in an ef­fort to iden­tify a sus­pect.

The woman’s fam­ily has said in a state­ment through their at­tor­ney that they will care for the in­fant boy and have asked for pri­vacy.

The rev­e­la­tion that a woman in a veg­e­ta­tive state was raped in­side a care fa­cil­ity has hor­ri­fied ad­vo­cates for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and the com­mu­nity at large.

Ha­cienda Health­Care’s CEO Wil­liam Tim­mons re­signed on Dec. 31 as the provider an­nounced new safety mea­sures, in­clud­ing more than one staff mem­ber be­ing present dur­ing pa­tient in­ter­ac­tions and more scru­tiny of vis­i­tors.

Gov. Doug Ducey, a Repub­li­can, said his of­fice is con­sid­er­ing bring­ing in a third party to as­sume re­spon­si­bil­ity for the on­go­ing man­age­ment of Ha­cienda.

The non­profit fa­cil­ity gets more than $20 mil­lion an­nu­ally in tax­payer funds for tak­ing care of ex­tremely ill peo­ple, many of whom are in­ca­pac­i­tated and on ven­ti­la­tors, the Repub­lic re­ported.

Ha­cienda’s an­nual av­er­age cost of care was $386,000 per client in 2012 com­pared with $134,000 per client in sim­i­lar U.S. fa­cil­i­ties, Ari­zona Depart­ment of Eco­nomic Se­cu­rity au­di­tors said.

The Repub­lic said for­mer eco­nomic se­cu­rity di­rec­tor Ti­mothy Jef­fries and the agency’s chief law en­force­ment of­fi­cer, Charles Lof­tus have both filed law­suits against the state, claim­ing they were forced out of their jobs over their probe of Ha­cienda.

Jef­fries was forced to re­sign in 2016 af­ter a se­ries of con­tro­ver­sies, in­clud­ing a find­ing by the Ari­zona Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safety that the depart­ment kept shoddy record-keep­ing, had in­se­cure stor­age of guns and am­mu­ni­tion and that it had vi­o­lated state pro­cure­ment poli­cies in buy­ing some 60,000 rounds of am­mu­ni­tion.

ROSS D. FRANKLIN — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

This Fri­day file photo shows Ha­cienda Health­Care in Phoenix. State reg­u­la­tors re­port­edly wanted to re­move de­vel­op­men­tally dis­abled pa­tients from a Phoenix long-term care fa­cil­ity years be­fore a woman in a veg­e­ta­tive state gave birth. The Ari­zona Repub­lic re­ported Sun­day that Ha­cienda Health­Care faced a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion in 2016. The fa­cil­ity al­legedly billed the state some $4 mil­lion in bo­gus 2014 charges for wages, trans­porta­tion, house­keep­ing, main­te­nance and supplies.

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