LITTLE ROCK (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department asked a federal judge Tuesday to stop the Conway Human Development Center from admitting young patients, claiming that residents at the state-run facility are more likely to die there than be released.
"Once admitted to CHDC, a child's chances of ever living in the community again immediately — and irreparably — decrease," said the department's court filing, which seeks an emergency injunction stopping the admission of school-age children to the center.
The Conway center serves about 500 developmentally disabled residents.
The Justice Department said on average, residents at the center die at the age of 46.5 years — compared with an average age of 72 for individuals with developmental disabilities at other institutions.
The department argues that the center has mismanaged medication — including one case in which an 8-year-old patient suffered kidney damage after he received a high dose of Lithium — and that unnecessarily severe restraints are used on patients.
Forty-one types of restraints — including chairs, straitjackets and a device called a papoose board that immobilizes a patient's midsection — have been used on patients, including children, the department said. The restraints were used 1,300 times in April 2009, according to the filing.
"Such restraints are widely disfavored nationwide and not in accordance with generally accepted professional standards," the court filing said.
Julie Munsell, a spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Human Services, said the agency hadn't reviewed the court filings late Tuesday afternoon and declined to comment. In court filings, the state has denied depriving the residents of their civil rights.
The lawsuit was filed last year under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.
The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes, with a trial set for Sept. 8.