ARIZONA NEWS

Former Arizona agency boss wanted to shut down Hacienda HealthCare

Jan 14, 2019, 7:02 AM | Updated: Jan 23, 2019, 10:49 am
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PHOENIX — The former director of the Arizona agency that oversees human services said he wanted to shut down Hacienda HealthCare, the Phoenix care facility where a woman in a vegetative state recently gave birth and the staff was unaware she was pregnant.

ABC15 reported that Tim Jeffries, former director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security, said his office wanted to close the site in 2017 after an audit caused concern about how funds were being used.

Phoenix police have said the 29-year-old woman, incapacitated since she was 3, became pregnant after she was sexually assaulted at the long-term care facility.

The Arizona Republic reported Hacienda HealthCare faced a 2016 criminal investigation, accused of billing the state more than $4 million in sham charges in 2014. The case was dropped in 2017.

Jeffries, who left the position under duress, he said, in November 2016, told the TV station that he had informed Gov. Doug Ducey’s office of the findings.

The governor’s office said in an email to the TV station that it had “acted on those concerns” from Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System — the state’s Medicaid program — and DES.

The Hacienda Board of Directors said in a statement released Sunday that it had hired former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley to leads its own investigation:

“The Board, leadership and employees of Hacienda HealthCare remain fully committed to determining exactly what happened to a patient entrusted to our care. To ensure a comprehensive, objective and transparent review of the facts of this deeply disturbing matter, the Board has hired respected former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley to lead an exhaustive internal review. Mr. Romley will have unfettered access to every facet of Hacienda’s business – including all the records related to this matter and all the operational procedures related to the ICF-ID unit.

We will do everything we can to aid this review and, once it is complete, to make sure this unprecedented situation never, ever happens again. Additionally, we will continue to cooperate fully with the Phoenix Police and the agencies investigating this matter. As an organization, our top priority is to quickly identify the perpetrator and to make sure that person is brought to justice.”

David Leibowitz, a spokesman for the care facility, said in a partial statement emailed Monday to KTAR News 92.3 FM:

“Mr. Romley will have unfettered access to every facet of Hacienda’s business — including all the records related to this matter and all the operational procedures related to the ICF-ID unit.

“We will do everything we can to aid this review and, once it is complete, to make sure this unprecedented situation never, ever happens again.

“Additionally, we will continue to cooperate fully with the Phoenix Police and the agencies investigating this matter. As an organization, our top priority is to quickly identify the perpetrator and to make sure that person is brought to justice.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Former Arizona agency boss wanted to shut down Hacienda HealthCare