Arizona licenses center where incapacitated woman was raped

An embattled Phoenix long-term care facility where an incapacitated woman was raped and later gave birth has received an Arizona license to operate, the latest step in an effort to overhaul its image and operations by relinquishing oversight to the state.

The Arizona Department of Health Services last week approved the license for Hacienda HealthCare that is valid for 11 months. Hacienda is the first intermediate care facility in Arizona to be licensed since the 1990s, when lawmakers previously approved an exemption for them.

Until recently, Hacienda was the only privately run intermediate care facility in Arizona, providing long-term care for children and young adults who are severely intellectually or developmentally disabled or medically fragile. It will now face as much scrutiny as nursing homes and assisted living centers, which have required licenses.

The Legislature reversed course on licensing intermediate care facilities last year after the surprise birth. Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation in April requiring state licensing and inspections of facilities like Hacienda.

“We continue to make progress at Hacienda and being granted a license … affirms that we’re on the right path,” acting CEO Perry Petrilli said in a statement.

Hacienda knows it has a long way to go to win back the trust of residents, their families and the community, Petrilli said.

Facility staff told authorities that nobody had any idea a 29-year-old resident was pregnant until she gave birth in December. The revelation led to the CEO stepping down, a shakeup of senior staff and two board members either leaving or getting fired.

Nathan Sutherland, a nurse who worked there, was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and vulnerable adult abuse. He has pleaded not guilty.

Hacienda’s board of directors initially proposed closing the unit where the victim lived, saying it was no longer financially sustainable. The state stepped in to regulate the facility to avoid 37 residents getting displaced.

Hacienda agreed to hire a third party to monitor day-to-day operations and lead daily checks on patients’ well-being. It also agreed to provide Arizona with a $50,000 deposit in the event that patient transfers are needed.

The facility also must ensure it complies with state and federal laws on nursing care institutions.

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