A woman who has been in a vegetative state for several years after an accident gave birth in a Phoenix care facility this week, prompting several sexual assault investigations, a report says.
The 20-year-old victim became comatose after a swimming accident and has for several years been a patient in the Hacienda Healthcare facility in Phoenix, Arizona, Fox 13 reported.
The birth shocked staffers at the facility when they began hearing the comatose woman vocalizing groans and grunts as the birthing process began. Staffers told police they were completely unaware she was pregnant.
The mother and her baby boy are being treated at Maricopa Medical Center, according to reports. The baby is healthy, doctors said.
Phoenix Police surmised that the woman must have been raped by someone working at the facility because they are the only ones with such easy access.
Hacienda Healthcare initially refused to comment on the incident, saying that an internal investigation is underway and that the company is cooperating with police.
According to an interview with someone working at the facility, male staffers are now required to be accompanied by a female staffer when working with female patients, AZFamily reported.
Dr. Greg Marchand told AZFamily that it is a miracle the baby lived and that there were no serious consequences for the comatose woman. After all, a woman in a vegetative state cannot help with the birthing process by pushing the baby out.
“It could have been an active labor for hours or even days. This easily could have resulted in a fetal death,” the doctor said.
On Friday, both the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Arizona Department of Economic Security said they would launch their own investigations into the shocking sexual assault.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey also released a statement, noting that his office is aware of the situation and is following it closely. Ducey also pointed out that “records reveal that the Hacienda HealthCare facility has a checkered past.”
As Gov. Ducey highlighted, Hacienda has received several citations, the last in 2017. In one case, an employee was fired for sexual impropriety with patients.
The company released a long statement on Friday as the story began to go viral:
Hacienda HealthCare has been in business in Arizona for more than 50 years. In that time, we have reliably and safely served thousands of residents and their families. We are proud of our record and our position as an industry leader in caring for the intellectually and developmentally disabled.
With that said, 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.
As an organization, Hacienda HealthCare stands fully committed to getting to the truth of what, for us, represents an unprecedented matter. We are already conducting 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. Anything less than that is unacceptable to our team, our company’s leaders and the communities we serve.”
All investigations are ongoing.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.