DNA samples will be collected from all male workers at a long-term care facility in Phoenix, Arizona where a female patient in a vegetative state recently gave birth, police say.
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The search warrant to obtain DNA samples from the Hacienda HealthCare-owned facility was served on Tuesday, according to company spokesman David Leibowitz, the Associated Press reported.
The 29-year-old female patient had been in a vegetative state for more than 10 years after a near-drowning. The baby was born on Dec. 29.
Hacienda HealthCare said it welcomed the DNA testing.
“We will continue to cooperate with Phoenix police and all other investigative agencies to uncover the facts in this deeply disturbing, but unprecedented situation,” the company said in a statement, the AP reported.
It’s unclear if facility staff members knew about the pregnancy until the birth. According to its website, the facility serves infants, children and young adults who are “medically fragile.”
The case has prompted reviews by state agencies and put on focus on the safety of severely disabled or incapacitated patients, the AP reported.
The woman was an enrolled tribal member of the San Carlos Apache tribe of southeastern Arizona, according to officials.
“On behalf of the tribe, I am deeply shocked and horrified at the treatment of one of our members,” tribal chairman Terry Rambler said, the AP reported.
“When you have a loved one committed to palliative care, when they are most vulnerable and dependent upon others, you trust their caretakers. Sadly, one of her caretakers was not to be trusted and took advantage of her. It is my hope that justice will be served,” Rambler said.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s office has called the case “deeply troubling.” Phoenix police so far not commented, the AP reported.
The case is “disturbing, to put it mildly,” said Jon Meyers, executive director of The Arc of Arizona, an advocacy group for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“I can’t believe someone receiving that level of constant care wasn’t recognized as being pregnant prior to the time she delivered,” Meyers told the AP.
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