Thu, Jan 10, 2019 - Page 6 News List

US police to collect DNA after woman in coma gives birth

AP, PHOENIX, Arizona

Police on Tuesday served a search warrant to get DNA from all male employees at a long-term care facility in Phoenix, Arizona, where a patient who had been in a vegetative state for years gave birth, triggering reviews by state agencies and putting a spotlight on safety concerns for patients who are severely disabled or incapacitated.

Hacienda HealthCare said it welcomed the DNA testing of employees.

“We will continue to cooperate with the Phoenix Police and all other investigative agencies to uncover the facts in this deeply disturbing, but unprecedented situation,” the company said in a statement.

Local news Web site Azfamily.com first reported that the woman, who had been in a vegetative state for more than 10 years after a near-drowning, delivered a baby on Dec. 29 last year.

San Carlos Apache officials on Tuesday night announced that the 29-year-old woman was a registered member of the tribe, whose reservation is in southeastern Arizona about 215km east of Phoenix.

In a statement, tribal officials said that the woman was still in a coma when she gave birth.

The woman’s name was redacted from the tribal statement and there was no information about the gender or status of the baby.

It is not known if the woman has a family or a guardian.

It is also unclear if staff members at the facility were aware of her pregnancy until the birth.

“On behalf of the tribe, I am deeply shocked and horrified at the treatment of one of our members,” tribal chairman Terry Rambler said.

“When you have a loved one committed to palliative care, when they are most vulnerable and dependent upon others, you trust their caretakers,” he said.

“Sadly, one of her caretakers was not to be trusted and took advantage of her,” he added. “It is my hope that justice will be served.”

San Carlos Apache Police Chief Alejandro Benally said that police would “do all they can to find the perpetrator” and his department would assist “in any way possible.”

A spokesman for Hacienda HealthCare said that investigators on Tuesday served a search warrant to obtain DNA samples from all male staffers.

In a statement, board member Gary Orman said the facility would accept “nothing less than a full accounting of this absolutely horrifying situation.”

“We will do everything in our power to ensure the safety of every single one of our patients and our employees,” Orman said.

Hacienda CEO Bill Timmons stepped down on Monday, spokesman David Leibowitz said.

The decision was unanimously accepted by the provider’s board of directors.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s office has called the situation “deeply troubling.”

Phoenix police so far have declined comment.

The Hacienda facility serves infants, children and young adults who are “medically fragile” or have developmental disabilities, according to its Web site.

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