Video: Heartbreaking disbelief after a patient in a vegetative state gives birth at a 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. 7, 2023 at 10:06 PM MST|Updated: Sep. 7, 2023 at 11:58 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — It’s a story that shook the valley years ago, and now, for the first time, we’re seeing video from inside Hacienda Healthcare back in 2018 after a patient in a vegetative state had unexpectedly given birth, especially since no one knew she was pregnant.

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

One of Arizona’s Family sources from inside Hacienda has also revealed more details than ever before.

You can see in the video it’s a chaotic and emotional scene inside Hacienda Healthcare on that December night. Christmas decorations were still up to spread joy while unexpected terror unfolded.

“And when I looked, it was a *inaudible*. The baby coming,” a nurse tells an officer on the body camera video. Phoenix Police and other law enforcement officers responded to the care facility after nurses called 911 when their patient gave birth to a baby boy, who at first was not breathing.

A former Hacienda employee and longtime Arizona’s Family source 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 Phoenix 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 asks a staff member. “Only female care only,” a nurse told the officer. “Okay, so no males ever go into her room allegedly?” asked the officer. “No,” a staff member said.

But we now know one of her nurses, Nathan Sutherland, was the rapist convicted of sexually assaulting her after the baby’s DNA matched his. Our 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,” said our source.

FULL COVERAGE: Watch the history surrounding the Hacienda Healthcare investigation

The former employee said not one person suspected Sutherland, so much so there was relief he was working in the days after what happened. “This was before it was revealed who he was,” she recalled. “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.”

The employee we spoke with has struggled with the deceit from someone they all 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,” said the former employee.

Hacienda Healthcare issued a statement Thursday:

Nathan 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 told Arizona’s Family the baby boy will be five years old in December and is walking and talking, but that 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.

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