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Documentation, Staffing Again At Center Of CHDC Troubles
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 17, 2004

CONWAY, ARKANSAS--Well, as baseball great Yogi Berra once said, "It's deja vu all over again".

Conway Human Development Center officials are again denying that staffing levels jeopardized the health and safety of residents with developmental disabilities housed at the state-run facility during late 2000 and early 2001.

The parents of J.R. Lawless have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the state, claiming that their 18-year-old son died because of poor treatment he received while at CHDC between May 2000 and January 2001.

J.R., who had mental retardation, profound hearing loss, spastic quadriplegia and seizure disorders, died from complications related to pneumonia in April 2001 at a Little Rock hospital.

In the suit, Donna Watts and her ex-husband Everett Ray Lawless Sr. allege that the facility did not have adequate staff and failed to properly treat and document J. R.'s seizures.

During a hearing Thursday, Watts and Lawless said that they saw their son having small seizures during each of their weekly visits. CHDC staff, however, only recorded one seizure the entire time he stayed there.

Current CHDC superintendent Calvin Price denied that the facility was short-staffed during the time of J.R.'s stay.

Price testified that the institution has never been cited by the state Department of Human Services' Office of Long Term Care for failing to meet its staffing requirements.

However, according to a March 6, 2001 article in the Log Cabin Democrat, the facility was cited by that same office for failing to provide sufficient direct care staff to supervise another CHDC resident. That resident's plan called for him to have one-to-one supervision because of his "sexual inappropriateness" toward other residents. During a 14-day investigation, DHS surveyors said the man received one-to-one support on just five days, and then only during the evening shifts.

Bob Clark, CHDC administrator at the time, explained that the resident did receive the proper supervision, but that staff assignments were not well documented.

"Documentation is the key," Clark said.

CHDC officials are now criticizing a recent U.S. Department of Justice letter that described medical care at the institution as "terribly inadequate".

In June, Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe responded, saying the Justice Department's report "includes so many inaccuracies, misstatements of fact, and unsupported generalized conclusions."

"Disabled son's care inferior, mom tells panel" (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
"Complaint puts CHDC funding at risk" -- March 6, 2001 (Log Cabin Democrat)
"Conway Human Developmental Center" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)


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