Arizona Nursing Facility Unit Where Woman in Long-Term Vegetative State Gave Birth Is Shutting Down
Eloise Hoffman was born with truncus arteriosus, a rare heart condition.
A unit of an Arizona nursing facility, where a female patient in a long-term vegetative state gave birth to a child, will soon officially close its doors.
Hacienda HealthCare officials announced in a statement on Thursday that the intermediate care unit in their Phoenix facility would be shutting down after a Feb. 1 vote from their board of directors.
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They also mentioned their plan to transition their patients and staffers to other facilities in the area over the next few months.
“Immediately following the February 1 vote, we notified the State of Arizona of the Board’s decision. Since then, we have been working with the proper state agencies to develop a plan to help the State transition our ICF-ID [Intermediate Care Facility for the Intellectually Disabled] patients to other facilities,” read the statement, obtained by Fox 10.
“We will continue to work with these agencies in the weeks and months ahead to ensure an appropriate and safe transition moving forward,” it continued. “The care of our patients remains our top priority and we will do everything in our power to ensure a smooth transition for them and their families.”
The facility — which cares for intellectually or developmentally disabled individuals who require a high level of medical attention, ranging from babies to young adults — also issued a memo to its staff members.
The note, which was obtained by Fox 10, explained that “it is simply not sustainable for us to continue to operate our ICF-ID” and that they would “eventually cease operation.”
According to the outlet, the memo also said that in the wake of the incident, they were forced to make a “complex set of changes to virtually every aspect of how Hacienda does business, following directives from multiple state agencies.”
The patient, who has been identified as a 29-year-old Native American woman, gave birth on Dec. 29 at the facility. She had been under the care of the facility since she was between ages 2-3, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
In the documents, it said the woman “lacks sufficient understanding and mental capacity to make decisions or give consents for her medical, placement or financial estate” and suffers from quadriplegia, recurrent pneumonia and a seizure disorder.
- RELATED: Woman in Coma Who Gave Birth Had Been in Nursing Facility Since She Was a Toddler: Court Docs
Nathan Sutherland, a licensed practical nurse in the care unit, has been arrested in connection to the case after his DNA allegedly matched the newborn baby. He was charged with one count of sexual assault and one count of vulnerable adult abuse. He has since surrendered his license and pleaded not guilty in court.
Though many were pleased with the decision to close the immediate care facility on Thursday, others were not as thrilled.
The Arizona Department of Economic Security suggested officials find a different solution, referring to the decision as “disturbing news,” according to the AP. The department’s spokeswoman Tasya Peterson added to that statement in an email to The Arizona Republic.
“We want to find a path forward that is in the best interests of the patients — and this approach is not it,” she told the outlet. “State agencies are exhausting all efforts to bring this to a conclusion that is beneficial to the patients, some of whom have been at this facility nearly their entire lives.”
“They are the ones who should come first, without question,” she added. “This approach simply does not meet that test.”
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey also shared his disapproval on the decision and critiqued the facility for not prioritizing the patients’ best interests.
“For some patients at the facility, this is the only home they know or remember,” Ducey’s spokesman Patrick Ptak told The Arizona Republic. “Forcing this medically fragile community to move should be a last resort. Everyone’s first priority should be protecting their health and safety.”