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Anger after comatose woman gives birth

China Daily | Updated: 2019-01-10 09:15

Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix, USA, Jan 4, 2019. [Photo/IC]

PHOENIX, Arizona - Police served a search warrant on Tuesday to get DNA from all male employees at a long-term care facility in Phoenix 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 its employees.

"We will continue to cooperate with 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 website 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.

San Carlos Apache officials announced on Tuesday night that the 29-year-old woman was an enrolled member of the native American tribe, whose reservation is in southeastern Arizona about 200 kilometers east of Phoenix.

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

The woman's name was redacted from the tribal statement. It's 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. Sadly, one of her caretakers was not to be trusted and took advantage of her. It is my hope that justice will be served."

A lawyer for the woman's family released a statement on Tuesday saying the family was outraged at the "neglect of their daughter" and they asked for privacy.

"The family would like me to convey that the baby boy has been born into a loving family and will be well cared for," Phoenix attorney John Micheaels said in a statement.

San Carlos Apache Police Chief Alejandro Benally said Phoenix police "will do all they can to find the perpetrator" and his department will assist "in any way possible".

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

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 State Governor Doug Ducey's office has called the situation "deeply troubling".


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