Arizona state gives Hacienda Healthcare an ultimatum

Arizona state gives Hacienda Healthcare an ultimatum

Arizona state gives Hacienda Healthcare an ultimatum

Officials with Hacienda HealthCare said its board of directors determined it's not sustainable to keep operating its intermediate care facility in Phoenix.

"This new legislation will allow the state to serve direct action, and in this particular place, if it were in effect, the state would take a more aggressive approach, and that's what we're looking to do", said State Sen.

The board of directors announced Thursday that the facility would close, and its 37 patients would be moved to other centers.

"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. "For however long this hard transition takes, our obligations to our staff, patients, and their families will be heightened even beyond what we have experienced of late".

Though the immediate care facility - now tending to 37 patients - will be closing its doors, the larger skilled nursing facility is planning to stay open, the Associated Press reports. "Thus, we will begin to transition clients and eventually cease operation", the facility said in a letter to its employees Thursday.

In January, state regulators ordered Hacienda HealthCare officials to find a third party-manager for its facilities, and on January 30, officials with Indiana-based Benchmark Human Services say they have been contracted by Hacienda to act as a third-party manager.

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Hacienda HealthCare received worldwide attention last month after the revelation that the 29-year-old victim, who had been at the facility since age 3, gave birth to a boy on December 29. She had been under the care of the facility since she was between ages 2-3, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.

Investigators say Sutherland's DNA matched a sample from the woman's newborn boy, who is being cared for by her family. Sutherland pleaded not guilty earlier this week and remains in a Maricopa County jail in lieu of a $500,000 bail.

The Arizona Department of Economic Security said in a statement that it encourages Hacienda to "work with the State to find a path forward", local media reported. The department's spokeswoman Tasya Peterson added to that statement in an email to The Arizona Republic.

The surprise birth triggered reviews by state agencies, highlighted safety concerns for patients who are severely disabled or incapacitated and prompted the resignations of Hacienda's chief executive and one of the victim's doctors. Caretakers said they had no idea that the woman, who was disabled by seizures during her early childhood, was pregnant. "This approach simply does not meet that test".

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey also shared his disapproval on the decision and critiqued the facility for not prioritizing the patients' best interests.

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