Family of Woman Who Gave Birth in Vegetative State 'Outraged and Traumatized': Lawyer
Attorney John Micheaels, who confirmed to PEOPLE he has been retained by the women’s devastated relatives, revealed the family is “outraged, traumatized and in shock by the abuse and neglect of their daughter at Hacienda Healthcare.”
“The family is well aware of the intense news and public interest in their daughter’s case, but at this time is not emotionally ready to make a public statement,” Michealels said in a statement obtained by Fox 10 and 12 News Tuesday evening.
Micheaels also gave an update on the newborn writing, “The family would like me to convey that the baby boy has been born into a loving family and will be well cared for.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the patient, who has been receiving treatment at Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix, was identified as a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe of Arizona.
The tribe confirmed in the press release the woman is 29 years old, meaning she has been in a vegetative since her late teens.
“On behalf of the Tribe, I am deeply shocked and horrified at the treatment of one of our member,” Chairman of the Tribe Terry Rambler explained in the release.
“When you have a loved one committed to palliative care, when they are most vulnerable and dependent upon others, you trust their caretakers. Sadly, one of her caretakers was not to be trusted and took advantage of her.”
“It is my hope that justice will be served,” Rambler added
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At this time, the patient’s pregnancy remains under investigation. Alejandro Benally, Chief of the San Carlos Apache Police Department said in the press release that “this matter falls under the jurisdiction of the Phoenix Police Department.”
“I know Chief Jeri Williams and the Phoenix PD Officers will do all they can to find the perpetrator. SCAPD will assist the Phoenix Police Department in any way possible,” Benally added.
In a statement to PEOPLE on Friday, Hacienda HealthCare spokesman David Leibowitz said the organization, which runs the facility, was cooperating with law enforcement but declined to divulge the exact nature of the underlying incident.
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“We have recently become aware of a deeply disturbing incident involving the health and safety of a Hacienda resident,” Leibowitz said. “While federal and state privacy laws prohibit us from publicly discussing a patient’s health or case, Hacienda has and will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement and all the relevant regulatory agencies regarding this matter.”
The New York Times and NBC News reported that the Phoenix Police Department had opened an investigation into allegations involving the facility but the agency would not discuss the details of the case or how long they had been looking into it.
Since the news of the incident broke, parents of patients at the Phoenix-based health care facility have come forward, expressing their concerns.
“Everybody was up in shock,” Karina Cesena, whose daughter is a patient at the Hacienda Healthcare facility, told CBS News. “Trust has been broken and severed completely.”
“My heart hurts, my chest hurts. I haven’t been able to sleep well at night because of what occurred here,” a mother, Angela Gomez, told CBS.
The Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS), which licenses the facility, said they were aware of the alleged incident and were “actively working with local law enforcement in their criminal investigation.”
In the statement, DHS spokesperson Melissa Blasius-Nuanez said the agency immediately initiated an onsite complaint investigation to “ensure the health and safety of the patients and ensure the facility is in compliance with all state laws and regulations.”
The Arizona Department of Economic Security is also on top of the matter explaining, they had dispatched a team to conduct health and safety checks on all members of at the facility, as reported by In a statement to KPHO-TV.
“We will continue to work to ensure the safety of all our member,” according to the release obtained by the local outlet.