Police in Phoenix are investigating a sexual assault at a nursing facility after a patient in a vegetative state became pregnant and gave birth. Police have been stationed outside Hacienda Healthcare over the last few days. It is now under criminal investigation, as state investigators try to determine how the woman got pregnant, reports CBS News correspondent Omar Villafranca.
Parents of other patients inside Hacienda Healthcare are furious and demanding answers.
“A lot of people are mad – my family included,” said a father, Gary Londer.
“My heart hurts, my chest hurts. I haven’t been able to sleep good at night because of what occurred here,” a mother, Angela Gomez, said.
They’re concerned for the safety of their loved ones after a female patient, who’s been in a vegetative state for 14 years, gave birth.
“Everybody was up in shock,” said another mother, Karina Cesena.
Cesena’s 22-year-old daughter, Jazzmyne, has been a patient at Hacienda Healthcare for about two years. Now, Cesena is not leaving her side.
“Trust has been broken and severed completely,” Cesena said.
Sources familiar with the case tell CBS Phoenix affiliate KPHO the woman has been a patient at Hacienda Healthcare for more than a decade after a near-drowning incident left her incapacitated. A source tells KPHO she delivered a healthy baby boy on Dec. 29, but none of the staff inside the clinic knew the patient was pregnant until she began moaning shortly before going into labor.
While privacy laws limit video surveillance in healthcare centers, Cesena said there needs to be more cameras. She said she has not seen cameras in the hallways, rooms, or at a nurse’s station.
A federal database that tracks nursing homes reveals Hacienda Healthcare has an overall rating of one out of five stars. According to state records, a staff member was fired in 2013 after making inappropriate sexual comments about patients.
Hacienda Healthcare declined our request for an interview, but in a statement said it’s cooperating with law enforcement and conducting a comprehensive internal review of processes, protocols, and people to ensure that every single resident is safe.
“Even though now it is a little bit better, but this should have been done prior to this incident happening,” Cesena said.
Another big question being asked is how could staff here not known a patient was pregnant up until labor? Police have made no arrests and it’s unclear if they’ve identified any suspects. A source tells KPHO investigators are now considering asking for warrants for people’s DNA samples. A spokesman for Arizona’s governor calls the situation “deeply troubling” and promised a new focus on patient safety.