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Facility's CEO resigns after vegetative patient gives birth

AP  |  Phoenix 

Police served a Tuesday to get DNA from all male employees at a long-term care facility in where a who had been in a vegetative state for years gave birth, triggering reviews by state agencies and putting a spotlight on safety concerns for patients who are severely disabled or incapacitated.

said it welcomed the DNA testing of employees.

"We will continue to cooperate with Police and all other investigative agencies to uncover the facts in this deeply disturbing, but unprecedented situation," the company said in a statement.

Local website first reported the woman, who had been in a vegetative state for more than 10 years after a near-drowning, delivered a baby on December 29.

Her identity has not been reported, and it's not known if she has a family or a guardian. It's also unclear if staff members at the Hacienda de facility were aware of the pregnancy until the birth.

In a statement, said the facility "will accept nothing less than a full accounting of this absolutely horrifying situation."

"We will do everything in our power to ensure the safety of every single one of our patients and our employees," Orman said.

Hacienda stepped down Monday, said. The decision was unanimously accepted by the provider's board of directors.

Gov. Doug Ducey's office has called the situation "deeply troubling."

police so far have declined comment.

The serves infants, children and young adults who are "medically fragile" or have developmental disabilities, according to the website.

In the wake of the reports, the Department of Health Services said new safety measures have been implemented. They include increased staff presence during any interaction, more monitoring of care areas and additional security measures involving visitors.

The state's for care facilities shows multiple complaints about Hacienda de going back to 2013.

Most of them involve fire drill and evacuation preparation or Medicaid eligibility. But one complaint from December 2013 outlines an allegation that a staff member made inappropriate sexual comments about four patients two months earlier. Nobody relayed the incidents to an

That employee was later fired.

Martin Solomon, a in Phoenix whose clients are mostly vulnerable adult victims of abuse and neglect, said a representing this woman should call for all pertinent medical records, a list of current and ex-employees and any past litigation involving Hacienda.

It would be the police who would lead DNA testing to figure out who fathered the baby, Solomon said.

It would be hard for Hacienda to escape any kind of liability in court.

"There's a lot of information we do not have, But things like this don't happen without someone either knowing about it or should have known about it," Solomon said.

"Whether it's an employee or someone from the outside, the facility has an obligation to protect residents."

Advocates for the disabled say needs to find a way to monitor allegations of sexual abuse and sexual violence in these group settings.

Doing background checks isn't enough, said Erica McFadden, of the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

"I think when you've had somebody who's had multiple allegations from different parties, there has to be some way to track that," McFadden said.

"If it's the same story from different people, then there's something wrong."

The council recently formed a task force to look at how to improve training for when it comes to identifying and reporting sexual abuse.

"We don't have a systematic way to train people what's a good touch or a bad touch. We also don't have required training for providers," McFadden said.

"We really need a lot of work in this area." Jon Meyers, of The Arc of Arizona, an advocacy group for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, called the allegations "disturbing, to put it mildly".

"I wasn't there. I clearly don't have firsthand knowledge of what happened," Meyers said. "But I can't believe someone receiving that level of constant care wasn't recognized as being pregnant prior to the time she delivered.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, January 09 2019. 06:50 IST