Doctor Who Cared for Ariz. Woman Who Gave Birth in Vegetative State Is Suspended
A second doctor has resigned as Hacienda HealthCare and police both investigate the sexual assault that preceded the Dec. 29 birth
Two doctors responsible for the care of a woman in a long-term vegetative state who gave birth last month are no longer working with patients after one was suspended and the other resigned, according to the Arizona facility.
Hacienda Healthcare confirmed the staff changes in a Monday statement obtained by PEOPLE.
“The two physicians who were responsible for the care of the sexual assault victim are no longer providing medical services to Hacienda patients,” said the statement from the company, which earlier announced an internal review into the incident that has sparked a criminal investigation into sexual assault.
“Once again, we offer an apology and send our deepest sympathy to the client and her family,” the statement said. “Hacienda intends to do everything possible to restore its credibility in the eyes of our patients, families, the community and our agency partners at every level.”
The patient, who has been identified as a 29-year-old Native American woman, gave birth on Dec. 29 at the facility, where she has been under care since she was between ages 2-3, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
Those records reveal that the patient’s last doctor’s examination took place more than eight months prior to the birth, which according to Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson “took everyone [at the facility] by surprise.”
PEOPLE was unable to reach the doctor who performed the examination.
Thompson told PEOPLE, “It’s my impression that the staff there had no clue that this lady was having a baby,” adding that she was “quite a ways along” before she had a natural birth.
The documents obtained by PEOPLE state the patient “lacks sufficient understanding and mental capacity to make decisions or give consents for her medical, placement or financial estate” and suffers from quadriplegia, recurrent pneumonia and a seizure disorder.
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Last week former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley said he’d been hired by the company to do an independent review of the “facts and circumstances” surrounding the birth of the baby as the result of a sexual assault.
“We’ve got a number of patients, some of the most vulnerable in our society,” Romley said at a news conference. “They need to be taken care of and there needs to be assurances … that this organization is going to do everything that it takes to correct the horrendous facts that led up to the impregnation of the young woman.”
Romley said his first priority will be to look at the facility’s security “to make sure this never happens again.”
“We all understand what the questions are,” he says. “We all understand, how could this have not been identified earlier? What happened here? All of those things I’m going to try to ferret out.”
The family of the woman responded to the internal review through their attorney, John Micheaels. “My clients trust that Mr. Romley’s investigation will be as promised — fully transparent — and made available to them as the victims of this appalling tragedy,” Micheaels said in a statement shared with PEOPLE.
“My clients also hope Mr. Romley’s investigation will result in the changes at Hacienda necessary to prevent further abuse and neglect of its patients,” he said.
At the time, the family also said they were “were disappointed to see that in its press release Hacienda’s leadership chose not to express any remorse or apology for Hacienda’s inexcusable failure to protect and safeguard their vulnerable daughter.”
Micheaels in a previous statement said the baby, a boy, now “will be well cared for” by “a loving family.”