State officials: Hacienda failed to reach agreement with 3rd party manager for facilities

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- State regulators say Hacienda HealthCare is not in compliance with state directives by failing to appoint a third party manager for its facilities.

Hacienda HealthCare has been the focus of international attention, after a baby was born to an incapacitated woman at one of their facilities. A suspect, identified as 36-year-old Nathan Dorceus Sutherland, has since been arrested. Sutherland, who has surrendered his nursing license, pleaded not guilty in court on Tuesday.

In January, state regulators ordered Hacienda officials to find and retain, with AHCCCS (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System) and DES (Arizona Department of Economic Security) approval, a qualified third-party manager to oversee day-to-day operations of the facility. In a statement released Tuesday, AHCCCS and DES officials say Hacienda is has not met the directive, as they have failed to reach a definitive agreement with Benchmark Human Services.

Benchmark officials had announced in late January that they have been contracted to act as a third-party manager for the facility, but on Tuesday, state regulators say it is their understanding that Benchmark is not onsite at Hacienda's Intermediate Care Facility and Skilled Nursing Facility, and regulators have ordered Hacienda to outline, in detail, their plan to comply with all issued directives no later than the end of the week.

Hacienda HealthCare officials have released a statement in response.

"At present, the Hacienda ICF is operating under the direction of two third-party administrators previously approved by Hacienda, Benchmark and the state of Arizona. Managerial authority resides with these third-party administrators. Hacienda was unable to reach a final contract with Benchmark in the short time frame imposed, as the vetting process was still underway. We will continue to do everything in our power to keep our patients safe, to make sure they get the best possible medical care and to comply with directives issued by the state of Arizona."