Several Hacienda HealthCare Board Members, Staff And County Attorney Resign
MARK BRODIE: There is more fallout today in the story about an incapacitated woman who was raped and later gave birth to a baby boy. This time, it involves Hacienda HealthCare, the facility where the young woman lived since she was three. Former County Attorney Rick Romley submitted his letter of resignation, along with several Hacienda board members and staff, including the director of nursing. Joining me to talk more about this is KJZZ's Kathy Ritchie, who's been following the story. Hey Kathy.
KATHY RITCHIE: Hey, Mark.
BRODIE: So it sounds like there's a lot to break down with all of these resignations.
RITCHIE: Yeah absolutely. Well, first we learned that former County Attorney Rick Romley tendered his resignation to Hacienda's CEO Patrick White on February 26. He also sent a check for $10,000, reimbursement for part of the fee for any unfinished work. Romley was investigating what happened at Hacienda. And so this is certainly surprising.
BRODIE: Well did he say anything in his letter about why he decided to step down?
RITCHIE: He did say it was a pleasure working with some of White's management team, but he said he could not continue because of several issues involving certain members of Hacienda's board, many of whom also resigned.
BRODIE: Alright, so do we know who resigned?
RITCHIE: Well I did learn that Patrick White, the CEO, intends to terminate his contract on March 13th. If you recall, he took the helm from Bill Timmons, who resigned when news broke that one of Hacienda's ICF residents delivered a baby and no one knew she was even pregnant. Hacienda's two COOs, their Director of HealthCare Support Services, the Director of Corporate Compliance and the Director of Nursing for the Skilled Nursing and ICF unit will be submitting their resignation.
BRODIE: Well so what does this mean for Hacienda's residents?
RITCHIE: You know that's still unknown, Mark, though White's e-mail said they're anticipating that there may be an immediate request to move Hacienda's patients. I talked to Jon Meyer about this. He's the executive director of the Arc of Arizona, a disability advocacy group.
JON MEYER: The earlier denial by the state of Arizona of the closure of Hacienda, one has to assume, was dependent upon the fact that those individuals who were in leadership positions would remain in those leadership positions, but absent them, there really is nothing that can justify keeping those patients, those residents, at Hacienda. They need to be put into a facility where there is good leadership, there is good oversight, there is good staffing to meet their needs and to provide them with the care that they are entitled to.
RITCHIE: I also talked to Meyer about who might be in charge after all of this.
MEYER: In all likelihood, it's falling onto mid-level management individuals who either don't have the expertise or don't have the experience to be in positions of executive control over an organization like that.
RITCHIE: You know, I reached out to several state agencies, including DHS, DES and AHCCCS. AHCCCS did say the following: "AHCCCS and our contracted MCO staff continue to have a presence onsite at Hacienda and are conducting regular health and safety checks on Medicaid members at this facility." I had reached out to DHS several times about the provider agreement — that's the contract between the state and Hacienda. As you know, Hacienda's ICF is not licensed by the state currently, and it appears that has yet to be completed, and these resignations could be a clue as to why.
BRODIE: Alright. It certainly sounds like there's going to be much more to follow on this. That's KJZZ's Kathy Ritchie. Thanks, Kathy.
RITCHIE: Thanks, Mark.
Romley said Friday he had issues with some members of Hacienda’s board. The board’s longest serving board member, Tom Pomeroy also resigned effective Friday. Several other executives submitted their resignations. Two cited intolerable working conditions.
And in an email obtained by KJZZ, Nancy Salmon, the vice president of corporate communications, said, “I greatly respect Rick Romley and his work, and with his resignation, there must be more to the story than I have previously known. That alone makes me very uncomfortable continuing to work here.”
In a statement, Hacienda HealthCare says Patrick White, the CEO of Hacienda since January, was terminated along with two other company executives.