Woman who has been in a vegetative state for 14 years gives birth
Police in Phoenix, Arizona are currently investigating a sexual assault, after a woman in a vegetative state gave birth last weekend. An anonymous source explained that the healthcare facility's staff had no idea that the woman was pregnant until she went into labour on December 29.
An unnamed woman has been a patient at Hacienda Healthcare Skilled Nursing Facility, a long-term care facility for the developmentally disabled, for at least 14 years. A near-drowning left her in a vegetative state, sources told CBS affiliate Arizona's Family, and she has been unresponsive ever since.
"From what I've been told, she was moaning and they didn't know what was wrong with her," the source said. Once they found out what was happening, a nurse delivered the baby, who is said to be "alive" and "healthy". The source also confirmed that the patient required around-the-clock care and there were many who had access to her room.
Since this incident, the facility has brought in a new rule which requires male staff members to be escorted by a female staff member whenever they go into a room with a female patient. The Arizona Department of Health Services, which licenses the facility, said that they were working law enforcement in their investigation.
The agency has insisted that the facility include "increased staff presence during patient interactions, increased monitoring of the patient care areas, and increased security measures with respect to visitors at the facility," according to a DHS spokesperson.
David Leibowitz, a spokesperson for Hacienda Healthcare, which cares for around 2,500 patients in the state, released a statement in which he insisted that "our patients' and clients' health and safety is our #1 priority":
“We have recently become aware of a deeply disturbing incident involving the health and safety of a Hacienda resident. While federal and state privacy laws prohibit us from publicly discussing a patient’s health or case, Hacienda has and will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement and all the relevant regulatory agencies regarding this matter.”
According to Leibowitz, the organisation is also set to conduct a “comprehensive internal review of our processes, protocols, and people to ensure that every single Hacienda resident is as safe and well cared for as possible". He added that "anything less than that is unacceptable to our team, our company’s leaders and the communities we serve.”
According to a 2017 state report, the facility was cited for not providing suitable privacy for patients, The New York Times reports. One patient made a complaint, explaining how he felt uncomfortable with how employees freely walked into the shower room when he was naked.
The Arizona Department of Economic Security also released a statement on the matter, in which they confirmed that they had "immediately dispatched a team to conduct health and safety checks" on all of the 74 residents of the healthcare facility. Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson also confirmed that the matter was under investigation, although no further information has been released to the public so far.