Bill Timmons resigned as the CEO of Hacienda HealthCare Monday after a vegetative patient at a Phoenix, Arizona nursing facility gave birth after being raped.
Hacienda has come under scrutiny after KPHO reported that a 29-year-old Native American woman gave birth on December 29 despite being in a vegetative state for 14 years after a near-drowning incident.
KPHO later reported that the woman had been raped multiple times.
A former Hacienda manager told KPHO that Timmons previously insisted that the abuse of a different patient be covered up in an unrelated incident in 1988.
Simmons on Monday submitted his resignation, which was unanimously accepted by the company’s board of directors.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A 29-Year-Old Vegetative Patient Gave Birth at a Hacienda Facility After Being Raped
KPHO reported earlier this month that Phoenix police launched a sexual abuse investigation at the Hacienda nursing facility after a 29-year-old woman who has been in a vegetative state for 14 years after a near-drowning experience gave birth to a healthy baby boy on December 29.
“None of the staff were aware that she was pregnant until she was pretty much giving birth,” a source told KPHO. “From what I’ve been told, she was moaning. And they didn’t know what was wrong with her. There was a nurse that was there, and from what I’ve heard she’s the one that delivered the baby.”
After the news broke, the San Carlos Apache Tribe released a statement saying the victim was a member of the tribe.
“On behalf of the Tribe, I am deeply shocked and horrified at the treatment of one of our members,” Terry Rambler, the tribe’s chairman, said in a statement. “When you have a loved one committed to palliative care, when they are most vulnerable and dependent upon others, you trust their caretakers. Sadly, one of her caretakers was not to be trusted and took advantage of her.”
2. Police Are Hunting for the Rapist
The Phoenix Police Department has been joined by multiple state agencies in investigating the abuse, NBC News reported.
Police have executed a search warrant seeking DNA samples from every male staff member at the facility. Hacienda said in a statement that they support the effort but said it could not legally require employees to comply.
“We had consulted attorneys to determine whether it would be legal for our company to compel our employees to undergo DNA testing conducted through Hacienda or for Hacienda to conduct voluntary genetic testing of staffers,” the facility said in a statement. “We were told it would be a violation of federal law in either instance.”
The Arizona Department of Health Services said in a statement that it is also ” actively working with local law enforcement in their criminal investigation.”
“Upon learning of the allegation, Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) immediately initiated an onsite complaint investigation to ensure the health and safety of the patients and ensure the facility is in compliance with all state laws and regulations,” the statement said. “During this time, 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.”
The Arizona Department of Economic Security is also working with the Phoenix police.
“Upon hearing of these allegations,” the agency said, “we immediately dispatched a team to conduct health and safety checks on all members residing at this health care facility, which has been completed. We will continue to work to ensure the safety of all our members.”
3. Timmons Resigned Amid Scrutiny
Timmons, the longtime CEO of Hacienda HealthCare, resigned Monday. Timmons also stepped down as president, a role he had just taken on on January 1.
“Timmons’ resignation was accepted unanimously by the Hacienda Board of Directors,” the company said in a statement.
Hacienda HealthCare board member Gary Orman said in the statement that the facility will accept “nothing less than a full accounting of this absolutely horrifying situation, an unprecedented case that has devastated everyone involved, from the victim and her family to Hacienda staff at every level of our organization.”
“I want to assure our patients, their loved ones, our community partners, the agencies we do business with, Governor (Doug) Ducey and the residents of Arizona, we will continue to cooperate with Phoenix Police and the investigating agencies at all levels in every way possible,” the statement said. “And we will do everything in our power to ensure the safety of every single one of our patients and our employees.”
4. Timmons Previously Insisted Patient Abuse Be Covered Up
After news of the sexual assault broke, a former Hacienda manager alleged to KPHO that Timmons insisted a previous, unrelated sexual abuse case be covered up.
The ex-manager said that female nurses were gathered around a nonverbal male patient’s bed and inappropriately discussing his genitalia. When the incident was addressed at a manager’s meeting, the ex-manager says Timmons pounded his fist on the table and said, “No! No one is going to report this,” despite being legally required to notify state health officials.
“I was scared,” the ex-manager said. “Bill Timmons has a temper. And we knew not to mess with that temper because people got fired.”
5. Lawmakers Considering Steps to Protect Patients From Abuse
At least one state lawmaker is pushing for legislation to protect patients at longterm facilities from abuse.
State Rep. Jeff Weninger told KPHO that he would support allowing families to install cameras in the rooms of loved ones so they can monitor them remotely.
“You can hook these up through an Internet signal in nursing homes,” Weninger said, adding that he was exploring the issue.
Louisiana passed a bill last year that bars healthcare facilities from denying family requests for cameras to be placed in rooms, CBS News reported.