Phoenix police are investigating possible sexual abuse at a nursing facility after a female patient recently became pregnant and gave birth.
The woman, who gave birth to a boy on December 29, has been in a vegetative state for at least a decade after a near-drowning incident.
Awake but immobile, and apparently unaware, her universe consisted mostly of a room at a Phoenix Hacienda HealthCare facility where she received round-the-clock care.
According to local media reports, the reported birth – and the sexual assault on a vulnerable individual, that must have preceded it, has cast a harsh glare on conditions at the nonprofit organization that bills itself as a leading provider of health care for Phoenix’s medically fragile.
“From what I’ve been told, she was moaning. And they didn’t know what was wrong with her… none of the staff were aware that she was pregnant until she was pretty much giving birth,” an unidentified source told Phoenix CBS affiliate KPHO.
Hacienda HealthCare stands “fully committed to getting to the truth of what, for us, represents an unprecedented matter,” a spokesperson for the organisation was quoted as saying in two news reports.
No one has been arrested in connection with the incident, and it’s unclear if police have identified any suspects.
In Arizona, sexually assaulting a vulnerable adult is a felony.
But there have been reports of patient mistreatment. For example, an investigation in 2013 found that a staff member had made “inappropriate, sexual statements” about four clients.
The staff member remarked that one client with intellectual disabilities had been placed in a sexual position.
The worker had also been observed watching clients touch themselves. Worryingly, the alleged incidents weren’t reported to the facility’s administrators until a month after they occurred.
That staff member was ultimately terminated, but the state found that the facility “failed to ensure clients . . . were treated with dignity.”