Facility Where Incapacitated Woman Gave Birth to Shut Down

February 8, 2019 Updated: February 8, 2019

PHOENIX—A long-term care facility in Arizona where an incapacitated woman was raped and later gave birth announced Thursday that it would shut down operations.

The company announced the closure in a statement on Feb. 7.

The December 2018 birth left nurses and other employees shocked as they had no idea the woman was pregnant until she was in labor.

A frantic 911 call captured the scene, with a nurse at one point yelling, “The baby’s turning blue!”

The boy survived the birth and is now healthy, the woman’s family said weeks later.

Officials with Hacienda HealthCare said its board of directors determined it’s not sustainable to keep operating its intermediate care facility in Phoenix. It serves infants, children and young adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities who require a high level of medical care.

Hacienda officials said they were working with state agencies to develop a plan to move 37 patients to other centers. Its skilled nursing facility will stay open.

“We will continue to work with these agencies in the weeks and months ahead to ensure an appropriate and safe transition moving forward,” the provider said in a statement. “The care of our patients remains our top priority and we will do everything in our power to ensure a smooth transition for them and their families.”

State regulators, meanwhile, called the decision “disturbing news” and not in the best interest of patients.

“We encourage Hacienda to work with the state to find a path forward,” the Arizona Department of Economic Security said in a statement. “State agencies are exhausting all efforts to bring this to a conclusion that is beneficial to the patients, some of whom have been at this facility nearly their entire lives.”

The state had ordered Hacienda to hire a third-party management team to oversee daily operations after the revelation that an incapacitated woman who lived at the facility since age 3 gave birth on Dec. 29. But Hacienda and the outside party could not come to a long-term agreement.

Authorities have charged Nathan Sutherland, a former licensed nurse, with sexually assaulting the 29-year-old victim. They determined his DNA matched a sample taken from the newborn boy.

Sutherland, who was shackled and carrying a legal pad during the arraignment hearing, pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual abuse and abuse of a vulnerable adult. He remains jailed on a $500,000 bond.

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Nathan Sutherland, accused of raping and impregnating a patient at Hacienda HealthCare, is arraigned in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix, Ariz, on Feb. 5, 2019. (Tom Tingle/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool, File)

Hacienda fired Sutherland after his arrest. He has since given up his nursing license.

Gov. Doug Ducey on Wednesday ordered state agencies to improve protections for people with disabilities. His executive order will require employees at state-funded care facilities to undergo annual training in recognizing and preventing abuse and neglect. He’ll also require that group homes and day programs prominently post signs about how to report abuse.

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Arizona state senators from left; Victoria Steele, Tyler Pace, Tony Navarette, Kate Brophy-McGee, Heather Carter, Rick Gray, Sylvia Allen, and Rebecca Rios meet in committee to discuss health care oversight at the Capitol in Phoenix, on Feb 6, 2019. (Matt York/AP Photo)
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