As It Happens

Mother guards daughter 24/7 at care facility where patient in vegetative state gave birth

Karina Cesena has barely left her daughter's room at a private health-care facility in Phoenix since she learned that another patient in a vegetative state had given birth.

Families of patients at Phoenix nursing facility fear the worst after woman went into unexpected labour

Karina Cesena, left, worries for her daughter Jazzmyne Deann Morris, who is a patient at the Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix, Ariz, where a patient in a vegetative state gave birth. (Submitted by Karina Cesena)
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Karina Cesena has barely left her daughter's room at a private health-care facility in Phoenix since she learned that another patient there in a vegetative state had given birth.

So long as whoever impregnated the patient is on the loose, the Arizona woman has vowed to stand guard. 

"I stay here pretty much 24/7. I stay in her room," Cesena told As It Happens host Carol Off. "I put a note on the door for no males to be coming in to do any checks, only females."

Azfamily.com, a news website for television stations KPHO and KTVK, first broke the news Thursday that a woman gave birth on Dec. 29 at the Hacienda HealthCare facility, where staff was unaware that she was pregnant. 

Two other Phoenix television stations later aired similar reports.

'Staff is very hush-hush'

According to the reports, the woman has been in a vegetative state since she was the victim of a near-drowning more than 10 years ago.  

Hacienda​ staff reportedly had no idea anything was out of the ordinary until she began moaning. The baby's head started to emerge when a nurse came in to check on her. 

She delivered a healthy baby boy.

On Tuesday, police served a search warrant to get DNA from all male employees at the long-term care facility.

This sign is hung on Jazzmyne Deann Morris's room door at the Hacienda HealthCare facility in Pheoniz, Ariz., where a patient in a vegetative state gave birth on Dec. 29, 2017. (Submitted by Karina Cesena)

The news of the birth came as a shock to Cesena, whose 22-year-old daughter Jazzmyne has been a patient at the facility since she suffered a traumatic brain injury two years ago. 

"As soon as I saw it, I saw it on the news, my body started shaking. I was confused. I was scared," she said.

She immediately drove to the health-care centre looking for answers — but found very few.

"A lot of parents are very, very concerned. A lot of the staff is very hush-hush," she said.

"We're just trying to get more information. Or hopefully, this person will just come forward to ease our mind a little bit so we can start feeling a little more secure about this place."

'There is no trust'

Jazzmyne, who spent 4.5 months in a coma but is now responsive, assured her mother that nobody had harmed her. 

But Cesena still has no idea who is responsible for the other patient's pregnancy, or how it could have gone unnoticed by the medical staff. 

"This woman has been here for 10 years and then all of a sudden this baby is born," she said. "Everything is so confusing right now."

And she's not alone. 

"A lot of people are mad, my family included," Gary Londer, the father of another patient, told CBS News.

"My heart hurts, my chest hurts. I haven't been able to sleep good at night because of what occurred here," Angela Gomez, a Hacienda patient's mother, said. 

The Hacienda HealthCare facility in Pheonix, Ariz., is under fire after one of its patients, who has been in a vegetative state for at least a decade, gave birth on Dec. 29. (Google Street View )

The facility's CEO Bill Timmons announced his resignation Monday, and the Phoenix Police Department has launched a criminal investigation. 

A Hacienda board member says the facility "will accept nothing less than a full accounting of this absolutely horrifying situation."

Sgt. Tommy Thompson said only that the "the matter is under investigation," but declined to elaborate.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, an agency that regulates health-care facilities in the state, the 60-bed Hacienda facility was required to tighten security procedures to protect patients in wake of the report.

But Cesena says neither she nor the other parents' families have been given any details about what those extra security procedures are.

Cesana is working to move her daughter out of the facility, which serves infants, children and young adults who are "medically fragile" or have developmental disabilities.

Jazzmyne has seizures every day and requires round-the-clock care. 

"It's very hard to find a place that will take somebody that young. Most of the places are senior care," Cesena said. "It's very hard for us to find a spot that's going to be suitable for her condition or her age."

Until she can leave, she says she'll watch over her daughter.

"Trust has been severed, period," she said. "There is no trust here."

Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from Associated Press. Interview with Karina Cesena produced by Chris Harbord.