Troubles mount for Hacienda HealthCare, as governor calls for criminal investigation

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- There's signs of mounting troubles for Hacienda HealthCare, a company that 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 in connection with the incident. Sutherland was a licensed practical nurse who surrendered his license after his arrest, and he has pleaded not guilty in court.

On Tuesday, Governor Doug Ducey pressed the state's Attorney General, Mark Brnovich, to begin a criminal investigation. On Wednesday, Gov. Ducey directed state agencies to better protect patients with disabilities, highlighting statistics that show people with intellectual disabilities are seven times more likely to be sexually assaulted, and three times more likely to be victims of violent crime. The executive order requires agencies to post signage with instructions on how to report abuse, and requires providers to check if potential employees are on the Adult Protective Services registry.

On Wednesday, officials with an Indiana-based company say they have not been able to reach an agreement with Hacienda HealthCare.

In January, state regulators ordered Hacienda HealthCare officials to find a third party-manager for its facilities, and on January 30, officials with Benchmark Human Services say they have been contracted by Hacienda to act as a third-party manager.

On Wednesday, however, Courtney Heiser with Benchmark released a statement to FOX 10, saying the company had six qualified staff on Hacienda grounds last week, working on a root case analysis and quality review, in accordance with state directives. In addition, Benchmark officials say they also identified and brought two administrators onboard to oversee two Hacienda facilities, but the company stopped all efforts, after Benchmark and Hacienda failed to reach an agreement at the end of the week last week.

"Benchmark greatly hopes a solution is found that ensures the quality of care and safety of the residents at Hacienda," read a portion of the statement.

Benchmark's statement came just one day after Arizona state regulators say Hacienda is not in compliance with state directives by failing to appoint a third party manager for its facilities, and orders the facility to outline, in detail, their plan to comply with all issued directives no later than the end of the week.