Changes at Hacienda HealthCare facility leave people "overwhelmed"

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- A lot of changes have been made at a Hacienda HealthCare facility, since a baby was unexpectedly born to a patient that's been in a vegetative state for 26 years.

Since Phoenix Police launched their rape investigation on December 29, Hacienda leaders have beefed up what many visitors called "lax" security, but the new measures are taking its toll on some family and staff members, whom describe the new rules as extremely stressful.

"The mood has been very tense," said Karina Cesena, whose daughter, Jazzy, is a patient at the facility. "It's been very robotic, mechanical people are trying to keep their job."

Cesena says she's witnessed a frenzy of changes since police began the rape investigation, especially with security.

"It's quadrupled, but it doesn't mean it's really safe, because that person has not been caught," Cesena said.

Cesena says police are patrolling the facility, visitors are assigned color-coded badges, hall monitors are checking badges, and a back door that administrators and families used in the past is now locked.

However, as the security increases, staff and families say they are worried the quality of care will go down.

"Understaffed, and people have left," said Cesena. "The people that are here are overwhelmed. They are overwhelmed."

FOX 10 has learned that male staffers cannot enter a female patient's room, unless they are accompanied by a female co-worker. According to a current staffer, who didn't want to be identified, males are frustrated because they cannot do their jobs, while females are frustrated because they must now do extra work, and patients are frustrated because their quality of care has significantly diminished, with the male staff being unable to attend to their needs when they need them addressed.

For Cesena, the most bothersome is the constant "checking" of patients' rooms by staff members.

"Every five minutes, every three minutes, people coming in," said Cesena. "They're doubling up and tripling up, and it's overkill."

Phoenix Police have not identified a suspect, and Hacienda has hired former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley to lead its own internal investigation into policies and procedures. Meanwhile, 92% of Hacienda's income comes from patients with Medicaid, and if the state de-certifies the facility, Hacienda could lose Medicaid and AHCSSS patients, as well as government funding.

Cesena set up a fundraiser: