Newly released bodycam shows heartbreak, disbelief when patient in vegetative state gave birth at Phoenix care facility

For the first time, we’re seeing a video from inside Hacienda Healthcare back in 2018 after a patient in a vegetative state had unexpectedly given birth.
Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 12:09 PM MST
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PHOENIX (Arizona’s Family/Gray News) - For the first time, a police video has been made public from inside Hacienda Healthcare in 2018 after a patient in a vegetative state who no one knew was pregnant gave birth.

Eventually, investigators arrested a nurse who worked at Hacienda, Nathan Sutherland, and he would later plead guilty to sexual assault. But for what seemed like an eternity, staff and the patient’s family had no idea who could have raped the victim.

Officer body camera video has been newly released as part of a Freedom of Information Act request by Arizona’s Family. A source from inside Hacienda also revealed more details.

In the video, it’s a chaotic and emotional scene inside the care facility on the night of Dec. 29. Christmas decorations were still up to spread joy while unexpected terror unfolded.

“And when I looked, it was a ‘(inaudible). The baby’s coming,’” a nurse tells an officer on the bodycam video.

Phoenix police and other law enforcement officers responded to the facility when nurses called 911 as their patient gave birth to a baby boy, who at first was not breathing.

A former Hacienda employee, who is not being identified, said they remembered what happened with the staff member who first discovered the victim in labor.

“When she opened the diaper, there was a head. And that poor aide didn’t work for a month. She was so distraught, so traumatized by the whole thing,” the former employee said.

The video also shows police officers trying to determine who had access to the room.

“All of her medical records, primary care physicians, nurses, visitor logs tracking about nine months back,” a Phoenix police officer asked a staff member.

“Only female care only,” a nurse told the officer.

“OK, so no males ever go into her room allegedly?” asked the officer.

“No,” a staff member said.

Sutherland was convicted of sexually assaulting the patient after the baby’s DNA matched his. The source explained that the caregivers were all women but not other staff.

“When they say caregivers, they’re talking about people who bathe you and dress you and feed you. But the nurse is something different. That’s on a different level. The nurse gives out medications and stuff like that,” they said.

The former employee said not one person suspected Sutherland, so much so that there was relief he was working in the days after what happened.

“This was before it was revealed who he was. One of the parents approached him one night and said, ‘I’m so glad you’re working tonight. I know my child is always safe when you’re here,’” she recalled.

The employee Arizona’s Family spoke with has struggled with the deceit from someone they worked with and trusted and has even considered reaching out to him in prison.

“I have thought so many times about writing Nate and seeing if he would write me back,” they said.

Hacienda Healthcare issued a statement Thursday:

Seeing video from that night almost five years ago is still gut-wrenching. Our hearts again go out to the victim and her family - and we remain disgusted by the behavior of the nurse who harmed a patient.

Almost five years later, virtually everything about Hacienda HealthCare is different. We have new board members, new leaders, new personnel, new security infrastructure, new procedures, and new resident care protocols. We have implemented every change required by state and federal agencies - plus our own improvements - and we have passed multiple inspections since then.

Nothing can change that awful day, but we have worked diligently every day since to make sure no one in our care ever again suffers harm.

Sutherland pleaded guilty two years ago to two felony charges of abusing and sexually assaulting the patient and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, where he remains. The victim’s family attorney said the child will be 5 years old in December and is walking and talking, but he’s still too young to know about what transpired.

As for the boy’s mom and the victim of the horrific attack, the family attorney said she is healthy and lives in a different care facility in Phoenix.