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Hacienda HealthCare hires unyielding anticorruption attorney to investigate comatose patient's pregnancy


This Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, file photo shows Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix. State regulators reportedly wanted to remove developmentally disabled patients from a Phoenix long-term care facility years before a woman in a vegetative state gave birth. (Ross D. Franklin / AP)

An Arizona nursing home has hired a former local prosecutors to find answers as to how a comatose patient was impregnated and gave birth last month.

Former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, known for his unyielding anticorruption investigations, said Sunday he’ll follow the truth wherever it leads in his probe at the Hacienda HealthCare home in Phoenix.

"I told them, if you're looking for someone to come and do a cursory exam and say everything is hunky-dory, I'm not interested,” Romley told The Arizona Republic.

Romley will have “unfettered access to every facet of Hacienda’s business – including all the records related to this matter and all the operational procedures related to the ICF-ID unit,” where the patient lived, Hacienda said in a statement announcing his hiring.

“We will do everything we can to aid this review and, once it is complete, to make sure this unprecedented situation never, ever happens again.”

Phoenix police are already planning to test the DNA of all male Hacienda HealthCare employees in the wake of the birth, which occurred on Dec. 28 when employees heard the 112-pound woman moaning and realized she was in labor.

The 29-year-old woman had been at the facility since she was 3 and is in a vegetative state. Since the San Carlos Apache tribal member gave birth to a healthy baby boy, the facility’s CEO, Bill Timmons, has resigned, and remaining staff are cooperating with police.

“We will continue to cooperate fully with the Phoenix Police and the agencies investigating this matter,” Hacienda’s statement said. “As an organization, our top priority is to quickly identify the perpetrator and to make sure that person is brought to justice.”