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AZDHS director speaks to legislative panel about report on complaint investigations

The acting director of the Arizona Department of Health Services spoke to state lawmakers Thursday about a report that found the agency has failed to ensure patients safety in state-run nursing homes.

Department Director Don Herrington told a legislative panel the agency is working on recommendations made by the auditor general to improve care. 

But lawmakers were angry that none of the recommendations had been implemented. 

Auditor General Lindsey Perry said the majority of high-priority complaints were reclassified to lower priorities to artificially extend the time the health department can investigate complaints. 

"When they put these family members and these loved ones in the care of the state, they do not deserve to get the treatment that we're currently giving them," Democratic Rep. Cesar Chavez said. 

Perry said she found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, but an audit of the 2019 report found 73% of high priority complaints were not investigated in the required 10-day window. 

Greg Hahne started as a news intern at KJZZ in 2020 and returned as a field correspondent in 2021. He learned his love for radio by joining Arizona State University's Blaze Radio, where he worked on the production team.