PHOENIX - One day after Hacienda Healthcare announced it was a closing its care facility for patients with intellectual disabilities, where an incapacitated patient was sexually assaulted and gave birth, state officials announced an agreement to voluntarily allow the Arizona Department of Health Services to oversee the facility.
Hacienda Healthcare released a statement Thursday evening saying its board of directors voted to agree to the regulation:
"This afternoon, the Board of Directors of Hacienda HealthCare voted to agree accept voluntary regulation by the Arizona Department of Health Services, subject to a final agreement with ADHS.
As we expressed to the State in our letter today (see attached), Hacienda’s paramount priority is the safety and health of our patients. In light of the recent events, we have complied with directives from multiple state agencies and done everything in our power to ensure the safety and welfare of our patients. Among the changes now in place as a result of the incident, we have installed dozens of cameras and monitors; enhanced security; hired off-duty police officers to provide facility security; and retrained every Hacienda staff member on Abuse and Neglect protocols using an AHCCCS-approved training module.
Our patients, their families, our team members and the Community deserve nothing less than this commitment from us."
ADHS said in a statement that the agreement will require Hacienda to take several steps to be in compliance with state regulations. The requirements include:
• Contracting with a third-party health care consultant to oversee the operations of facilities until ADHS determines the facility is in compliance
• Employing an onsite evaluator for the facility to ensure necessary changes are made and to ensure health and safety
• Putting together an independent review team to assess the level of care required for residents
• Developing a long-term plan and timeline for the facility and its operations within 90 days
ADHS also said it has been onsite at the facility since the end of December completing a complaint investigation. As a result of that investigation, ADHS required the Hacienda Healthcare facility to increase staff presence during patient interactions, increased monitoring of patient care areas and increased security measures at the facility.
The following statement from the Arizona Heath Care Cost Containment System says the state gave Hacienda until 4 p.m. Friday to either hire a third-party manager or let ADHS regulate it.
"Hacienda responded to AHCCCS’ and DES’ request by the 4 p.m. deadline, indicating that they are willing to enter an agreement with the Department of Health Services (ADHS) to voluntarily permit ADHS to exercise licensing authority over the ICF-ID, with the understanding that an agreement would need to be reached.
Given the high medical risks associated with transferring these patients, moving this medically fragile community is the option of last resort and not the state's goal.
We are confident that with ADHS exercising licensing authority, and a continued commitment by AHCCCS and DES to do everything they can to ensure the health and safety of members, this is the best immediate outcome for all parties involved."
Earlier this week, Gov. Doug Ducey called on Attorney General Mark Brnovich to prosecute Hacienda Healthcare and its leaders after the Department of Economic Security revealed Hacienda failed to hire an outside manager.
Both the governor's office and DES responded with disapproval to Hacienda's announcement Thursday that the board decided to close the facility.
Ducey's spokesperson Patrick Ptak called the announcement concerning.
"For some patients at the facility, this is the only home they know or remember," he said. "Forcing this medically fragile community to move should be a last resort."
There are 37 intellectually disabled patients who live in the unit and more than 100 employees.
After Friday's agreement, the governor's office sent a statement of approval.
"Just before 4:00 p.m. today our agencies received written confirmation from Hacienda expressing their intent to accept voluntary regulation from the Department of Health Services.
This is good news and the best immediate outcome as it means Hacienda patients and families would be allowed to say in the home they've known for years while ensuring new and enhanced protections and oversight are put in place.
Due to the medically fragile condition of this community, keeping patients where they reside was always our preferred choice and the safest option for patients. Our agencies will continue to work with Hacienda to implement a voluntary regulatory agreement with strong oversight and accountability measures that ensure safety and quality care going forward for patients."
Now, Hacienda Healthcare will be regulated by the state again after more than two decades.