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Options For Hacienda HealthCare Patients Limited After Phoenix Facility Closes

Hacienda Healthcare announced Thursday that it’s closing its Intermediate Care Facility (ICF). That’s the unit where a 29-year-old woman with severe disabilities was raped and later gave birth to a baby. The news has alarmed state agencies that say they’re committed to a path forward.  Hacienda's Board of Directors voted to close the ICF last Friday. In a statement, Hacienda says it has been working with state agencies to develop a plan to help the state transition those ICF patients to other facilities.

The Arizona Healthcare Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) and the Department of Economic Security (DES) appear to be stunned by this announcement. DES called the announcement “disturbing news,” and Gov. Doug Ducey’s spokesperson called it “concerning.”

While the agencies knew about the vote, Hacienda only provided verbal notification of their decision to close, and that doesn’t constitute official notification. Friday morning, AHCCCS sent a letter to Tom Pomeroy, the board’s president, with several questions that Hacienda has so far failed to address. The letter did state clearly that it does not consent to the ICF ceasing operations.

And it gave Hacienda two options. One: come into compliance and retain a third party manager, which they were supposed to do, or two: enter into an agreement with the Arizona Department of Health Services to allow DHS to exercise licensing authority over the ICF.

For many of these residents, Hacienda is the only home they’ve known. Also, this population is medically fragile and moving them could negatively impact those individuals. KJZZ was told AHCCCS and DES will reach out to their families about options — what those might be, it’s not yet clear.

Jon Meyers is the executive director of the ARC of Arizona. He said, "They could be transferred to the facility the institution at Coolidge which has an ICF. The problem is that the ICF at Coolidge has not accepted new residents at Coolidge for a number of years. As the existing residence have died, that program has scaled down and in my opinion it would not be at a point where it could accept the influx of 36 new patients in order to accommodate them. It’s not staffed for it."

Meyers said there’s a handful of ICFs scattered around the state but they're small. But again, there are more than three dozen people who require around the clock care.

As to why Hacienda decided to close their ICF unit, Hacienda said in their statement the board said that after careful consideration they decided it was not sustainable to operate the ICF. However, Hacienda will continue to operate its skilled nursing facility.

News Business
Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.