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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey wants state to take legal action against Hacienda

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PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is urging the state’s top legal official to take action against Hacienda HealthCare, the Phoenix facility where an incapacitated woman gave birth late last year.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Ducey asked Attorney General Mark Brnovich to “initiate and prosecute a complaint under the Adult Protective Services Act against Hacienda HealthCare and its governing body for their actions or lack thereof in relation to the rape of a patient.”

Brnovich’s office confirmed that he’d received the letter but did not offer further comment.

Ducey wants Brnovich to seek civil penalties and board members to divest their interests in the company.

“I also ask that you initiate an investigation into violations of Arizona’s civil rights act related to the troubling allegations,” the letter requested of Brnovich.

The letter shed light on news from earlier in the day that Hacienda had not yet finalized a deal with Benchmark Human Services, a third-party company that had been negotiating to oversee the facility to comply with state demands.

“It has come to my attention over the weekend that Hacienda claims it cannot afford the cost of Benchmark, with anticipated costs of $500,000, even though according to tax documents, it paid the prior CEO an almost $600,000 salary,” the letter said. “These facts do not add up.”

After a woman who can’t speak and has very limited movement had a baby at the care center on Dec. 29, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (the state’s Medicaid program) and the Arizona Department of Economic Security issued a list of demands to Hacienda HealthCare, including an order to have a third-party manager in place by Jan. 30.

A deal appeared to be in place on the day of the deadline, but that proved to be premature.

On Jan. 23, Phoenix police arrested Nathan Sutherland, a Hacienda nurse, after investigators said they matched his DNA to the baby’s.

On Tuesday, Sutherland pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual assault and abuse of a vulnerable adult.

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