Arizona healthcare facility where woman was raped will remain open

PHOENIX (Reuters) – An Arizona long-term healthcare facility where a severely disabled woman was raped will remain open after its owners agreed to allow the state to oversee operations, a spokesman for the governor said on Friday.

Hacienda HealthCare had said on Thursday that it was no longer “sustainable” to operate its skilled nursing facility in Phoenix, where an unidentified patient in her 20s was raped, a crime that only came to light after she gave birth in December.

“(The agreement) means Hacienda patients and families would be allowed to stay in the home they’ve known for years while ensuring new and enhanced protections and oversight are put in place,” said Patrick Ptak, a spokesman for Arizona Governor Doug Ducey.

Ducey and state regulators had sharply criticized Hacienda’s decision to close the facility.

Hacienda said the company had already taken steps to ensure the safety and welfare of the roughly three dozen patients at the facility by adding surveillance equipment, increasing security and improving training.

“Our patients, their families, our team members and the community deserve nothing less than this commitment from us,” the company said in a statement on Friday.

Ducey has urged the state attorney general to open an investigation and to seek civil penalties against Hacienda and a company reorganization.

A nurse at the facility, Nathan Sutherland, 36, was arrested in January after investigators said they had linked him to the case through DNA evidence. He has pleaded not guilty and remains in jail.

The woman ultimately gave birth to a baby boy, who police say is doing well and is being cared for by her family members.

Caretakers at Hacienda said they had no idea that the woman, who was disabled by seizures during her early childhood, was pregnant.

Reporting by David Schwartz; Edited by Dan Whitcomb and Rosalba O’Brien

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