After news broke that an Arizona woman in a vegetative state gave birth to a child, police are investigating male employees at her care home in the hopes of identifying the baby’s father.
While Phoenix police have refused to publicly comment on the case, the female patient who gave birth last month is a 29-year-old woman who has been in a coma for more than a decade, suggesting she was sexually assaulted last year.
Hacienda HealthCare, the nursing facility where the woman is being treated, called the case a "deeply disturbing but unprecedented situation."
In a statement, Hacienda confirmed that police in Phoenix obtained a warrant "to obtain DNA from male Haciende HealthCare staffers."
The company also said they checked with lawyers about the possibility of forcing their employees to take DNA tests, or conducting voluntary tests themselves. "We were told it would be a violation of federal law in either instance," the company said.
Arizona’s Department of Economic Security also sent investigators to Hacienda last week for a health and safety check. Details from that investigation have not been released yet.
Hacienda’s CEO, Bill Timmons, has already resigned in the wake of the scandal.
Local news station KPHO revealed that the patient who gave birth last month is a Native American woman who has been in a vegetative state for 14 years, since she nearly drowned as a teenager.
John Michaels, an attorney representing the patient’s family, said they were "outraged, traumatized and in shock by the abuse and neglect of their daughter at Hacienda HealthCare."
"The family is well aware of the intense news and public interest in their daughter’s case, but at this time is not emotionally ready to make a public statement," he added.
However, the family chose to reveal that the baby boy "has been born into a loving family and will be well cared for."
As the investigation continues, an anonymous staff member from Hacienda spoke about the situation with Arizona’s Family.
"None of the staff were aware that she was pregnant until she was pretty much giving birth," the source claimed.
Another anonymous former Hacienda employee, who claims to have been a caregiver for the woman, told ABC 15 the patient was completely non-communicative, not speaking or using any form of sign language.
The caregiver also said the patient was regularly visited by family members, and told reporters she struggled to believe that no Hacienda employees noticed the pregnancy in a facility where bed checks are supposed to occur every 15 minutes.
"I can’t believe someone would bathe her for nine months, never know she wasn’t having her period, she wasn’t growing in her midsection," the source said. "That nurses weren’t keeping track of her weights. Those things are just shocking to me."
The caregiver also complained about lax security rules at Hacienda, noting that she entered through the back door "many times," and that the facility’s doors do not have key card locks.
Arizona’s Department of Health Services has ordered Hacienda to follow "heightened safety measures."