Arizona’s governor is pushing for increased scrutiny of his state’s long-term care facilities, in the wake of a sexual assault that has garnered national attention.
On Wednesday, Doug Ducey (R) issued an executive order, directing state agencies to bolster protections for individuals with disabilities in long-term care facilities. He’s also mandating that providers who receive state funds better train employees on how to spot signs of abuse, the Hill reported Wednesday.
The governor’s actions come in response to an ongoing scandal at Hacienda HealthCare, in Phoenix, which told the state Friday that it would be closing its Intermediate Care Facility for the Intellectually Disabled due to fallout from a sex assault that caused a severely disabled resident to become pregnant. In December, a 29-year-old woman who’s long been incapacitated gave birth to a baby boy, which reportedly caught facility operators by complete surprise. Last month, authorities arrested 36-year-old Nathan Sutherland for sexual assault, based on findings of a DNA test. The former licensed practical nurse plead not guilty to the charges on Tuesday.
“All Arizonans deserve to be safe — and we have a special responsibility to protect those with disabilities,” Ducey said in a statement. “This executive order provides increased accountability and stricter oversight, ensuring our most vulnerable are safe and protected.”
Arizona lawmakers also are considering enacting a “granny cam” law to help prevent future abuse. In addition, legislators are mulling legislation that would require certain long-term care facilities to apply for state licenses and conduct background checks on employees, the Associated Press reported. Earlier this week, Ducey also requested that the Arizona attorney general explore possible criminal actions against Hacienda HealthCare.