Facility Where Woman in Vegetative State Gave Birth Was Cited After Staff Walked in on Nude Patient
A male resident of the Phoenix facility complained that staff members regularly walked in on him while he was nude and showering
An Arizona nursing facility where a woman in a vegetative state gave birth last month was earlier faulted for failure to protect residents’ privacy while they were naked in the shower.
The Hacienda nursing home in Phoenix — which is investigating the Dec. 29 birth of a baby boy to a patient who reportedly has been in a vegetative state for at least a decade — corrected the prior deficiency by assuring that staff members would receive added training, according to records from the state Department of Health and Human Services.
In the earlier privacy deficiency, a male patient told investigators in December 2017 that while he was being bathed by one staff member, other staff members would regularly walk into the area where he was nude and showering.
The resident reported that “it made him feel uncomfortable,” according to the state records. “He stated that he does not know why staff come and go in the shower room, when he does not have any clothes on. He stated it has happened on many occasions.”
A female staff member explained that while giving the man a shower, another female staff member “entered the room and just wanted to talk with her,” exhibiting repeated behavior by the second staff member that “has now become a bad habit and is a dignity problem,” according to the state’s report.
The second staff member, who acknowledged her interruption of the naked male resident, said she had seen had seen “many” other staffers do the same sort of thing.
The second staffer, along with the facility’s director of nursing, said such incidents typically occurred because of the need to access supplies or trash receptacles stored in the shower room, or because staff members were crossing through the shower area from one resident’s room to another.
After being assured by administrators that both of those staffers “have been counseled on privacy during showering residents” and that “all direct care staff” would be furthered trained on “Bathing with Dignity,” the state issued a follow-up report in January 2018 which said those and other deficiencies uncovered by investigators “have been corrected.” No other fines or punishments were levied, the records show.
Hacienda HealthCare operates the long-term care facility for the developmentally disabled where the woman gave birth on Dec. 29, according to Phoenix-based TV station KPHO, which also reported that the patient has been in a vegetative state for at least a decade after a near-drowning. The outlet attributed its report to a single unnamed source who had reportedly been told about the incident.
A patient is considered in a vegetative state when he or she is awake but not showing signs of awareness, according to the Mayo Clinic.
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.
The New York Times and NBC News reported that Phoenix police 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.
The Phoenix Police Department did not return PEOPLE’s calls for comment.
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The state Department of Health Services, which licenses the facility, said in a statement that it was “actively working with local law enforcement in their criminal investigation.”
Since the allegations surfaced, the agency has “required heightened safety measures be implemented at the facility including increased staff presence during patient interactions, increased monitoring of the patient care areas, and increased security measures with respect to visitors at the facility,” according to the statement obtained by PEOPLE.
Hacienda HealthCare spokesman Leibowitz said the organization “stands fully committed to getting to the truth of what, for us, represents an unprecedented matter.”
The company, he said, is conducting a “comprehensive internal review of our processes, protocols, and people to ensure that every single Hacienda resident is as safe and well cared for as possible. Anything less than that is unacceptable to our team, our company’s leaders and the communities we serve.”