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Hacienda Healthcare, a Phoenix intermediate care facility, is under investigation by the State of Arizona following two high-profile cases in the last six months. In December, a handicapped 29-year-old San Carlos Apache woman, gave birth to a baby boy after she was raped and impregnated by a nurse. In June, a report by the Arizona Republic, stated that maggots were found near the surgical incision of a 28-year-old male patient at the same facility.

Following these cases, the state of Arizona has begun investigating the medical provider.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have announced they will terminate the facility’s Medicaid, effective July 3. They cite that the termination is “due to the facility’s failure to meet Medicaid’s basic health and safety requirements.”

The Arizona Department of Health Services has also issued a notice of intent to revoke the license of the facility, in a statement released in June.

Despite this, a group of families of patients at the facility held a press conference Monday, stating that they wish for the facility to remain open.

“This [Hacienda Healthcare] is his world and these are his people,” said Heidi Reid-Champigny, the sister of a 55-year-old male patient at the facility. “This is his family, his caregivers, his nurses, they are his family.”.

Others, like Dr. Alan Strobel, the father of a 30-year-old patient, feel that Hacienda Healthcare is “the best-run facility of its kind.” He called the cases that happened at the facility, “isolated events.”

Dr. Strobel added that he believes the media has magnified the recent incidents and blown it out of proportion.

“Because of you [the media], the federal government is here,” Dr. Stobel said. “And the state.”

Indian Country Today reached out to the attorney of the family of the San Carlos Apache woman. They declined to comment.

Officials have found a match to a DNA test of the baby boy born in December. His father was a nurse at Hacienda Healthcare, Nathan Sutherland. Sutherland was fired after his arrest and is being charged for multiple charges of sexual assault and abuse of a vulnerable adult.

Following the news of the incident, San Carlos Apache Chairman Terry Rambler said, “On behalf of the tribe, I am deeply shocked and horrified at the treatment of one of our members.”

The woman’s family has recently filed a $45 million notice of claim against the state. They have until December to formally sue.

Other Arizona lawmakers have called to action. On June 26, the Arizona House of Representatives announced the creation of a committee to “review and identify best practices for the reporting and investigative processes to ensure the safety of vulnerable adults.”

The committee with be chaired by Representative Jennifer Longdon (D-24). “The most recent circumstances at Hacienda Healthcare, along with the work we’ve done in this session, demonstrate the urgency of this work,” she said in a statement.

A 2018 report by NPR found that people with intellectual disabilities are sexually assaulted at a rate that is seven times that of people without disabilities.

The National Congress of American Indians has found more than half of Native women (56.1 percent) experience sexual assault in their lifetime, according to a 2018 report.

Hacienda Healthcare was founded in 1967 and is the only privately owned intermediate care facility for the intellectually disabled in the state of Arizona. They provide services to over 2,500 people every year, they state on their website.

The facility is a 60-bed intermediate care facility for people with intellectual disabilities. They have not accepted any new patients since January.

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Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is the Rowland and Pat Journalism Fellow at Indian Country Today and a reporter-producer. Her email is:
On Twitter: @aliyahjchavez

(Indian Country Today, LLC., is a non-profit news organization owned by the non-profit arm of The National Congress of American Indians. The Indian Country Today editorial team operates independently.)