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Woman with son in coma at Hacienda HealthCare praises the facility

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PHOENIX – A woman with an adult son being cared for at Hacienda HealthCare spoke highly of the Phoenix facility where a woman in a vegetative state recently gave birth.

Karen Longer said she searched for a month for a place to care for her son, who is in a coma, and found most of the facilities to be “disgusting” and “dirty.”

“And we walked into Hacienda, and the people were so nice, and they were so caring. We said, ‘This is the place we have to put him,’” she told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Thursday.

In the two years he’s been at the facility near 16th Street and South Mountain Avenue, Longer said her son, now 26, has been treated with nothing but respect despite his condition.

Longer said she was sick to her stomach to learn that a 29-year-old woman in a vegetative state for more than a decade had given birth at Hacienda on Dec. 29.

The Phoenix Police Department is conducting a sexual assault investigation and has collected DNA samples from male staffers.

The facility specializes in providing around-the-clock care for infants, children and young adults with developmental disabilities or who are “medically fragile.”

Since the birth came to light, Hacienda has implemented increased safety measures, including more than one staff member being present during patient interactions and more scrutiny of visitors.

The company has said it welcomes DNA testing of its male staffers and is cooperating in the investigation.

Longer blamed whomever impregnated the woman, whether it was an employee or somebody else, for ruining Hacienda’s reputation.

She said the incident has been difficult on the staff.

“Most of the people who I know and I’ve met have been nothing but caring,” she said.

“These patients are like their family to them. Right now they’re very upset, they’re very depressed.”

She said she hopes the facility isn’t forced to close, not just for her son’s sake, but because many of the patients have no advocates and are either wards of the state or don’t have family in Arizona.

“Most people do not have anybody to speak for them, and Hacienda is their family, and this is all they know,” she said.

Longer described two patients she calls “Romeo and Juliet” who are immobile and can barely speak but fell in love and hold hands all day.

“If you shut this place down and you separate them, you would devastate them,” she said.

Despite her fondness for Hacienda, Longer said she is looking into putting a security camera in her son’s room after the recent events.

“Only if they let me. They’re checking it out legally with their attorneys and the HIPAA laws,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Mac & Gaydos

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