Arizona, Hacienda HealthCare reach agreement after alleged sex assault

Mar 8, 2019, 12:17 PM | Updated: 12:35 pm
(KTAR News Photo)...
(KTAR News Photo)
(KTAR News Photo)

PHOENIX — Arizona and Hacienda HealthCare have reached an agreement to place the facility under state supervision after a nurse was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting an incapacitated patient.

The agreement that was announced Friday will allow the Arizona Department of Health Services to regulate the intermediate care facility where the 29-year-old woman was treated for years before giving birth late last year.

Nathan Sutherland, a nurse who cared for the patient at the time of the alleged assault, was arrested in January after his DNA was matched to the baby’s, police said. He has pleaded not guilty.

As part of the agreement, “Male caregivers are not to provide direct care to females without another person present,” Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said.

State health officials will be able to survey any of Hacienda’s facilities unannounced and will post the inspection results and any plans for correction on

“This is very significant that we’ve been able to reach this agreement,” Christ said.

“This is going to ensure the health and safety of those patients (and) provides the department with regulatory oversight.”

But the agreement is only in effect until Hacienda becomes licensed by the state, the department terminates the contract or if both parties agree to terminate the contract. Hacienda is a Medicaid-certified facility and is exempt from state licensing due to an Arizona statute.

If a bill to regulate facilities like Hacienda becomes law, the facility will have to apply for licensure within 30 days after the rules go into effect.

“This agreement marks an important first step, because it allows Hacienda and our nearly 800 employees to partner with the state to show how serious we are about delivering the best possible medical care under the safest possible conditions,” Perry Petrilli, Hacienda’s acting CEO said in a statement.

Officials at Hacienda will hire onsite monitors and implement a video monitoring plan for additional security, as well as provide daily reports of staffing departures to keep up with patient care.

Hacienda was also ordered hire an independent party that will oversee operations and health care delivery, evaluate the company’s practices and systems and ensure health and safety concerns from the department are being addressed.

The third party will also provide the state Department of Health Services with a monthly report of administrative activities and updates on the company’s compliance with the agreement.

“Our No. 1 priority is the health and safety of the patients at this facility,” Christ said.

Officials at Hacienda HealthCare will meet weekly with state health officials and will provide the department with a plan for the facility’s future operations. They will also have to pay a $50,000 deposit that can be used to assist the transfer of patients as well as maintain compliance with state and federal contracts.

If the long-term care facility ever decides to close its doors, officials must give at least 90 days notice before doing so and provide a transfer plan that will “ensure the health and safety of the residents.”

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Arizona, Hacienda HealthCare reach agreement after alleged sex assault