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England home loses its license; inspector fired

By Mary Hargrove

This article was published February 26, 1999 at 5:21 a.m.

The license for Rest Avenue Residential of England, which houses the mentally ill, has been revoked and the man who headed inspections of those residential care facilities has been fired by the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

In addition, the funding for one residential care facility whose Medicaid funds were cut off last week has been restored by the state.

Claude Sutterfield of Mountain View owns Rest Avenue, a residential care facility which is licensed for 64 residents. On Monday, the Human Services Department cut off the Medicaid funds to that facility. Rest Avenue received $212,000 in state and federal Medicaid funds for personal-care services such as bathing, grooming and preparing meals for the last fiscal year, which ended June 30

Pictures taken by state Medicaid field auditors showed an open trash can sitting beside a stove caked with thick deposits of dried food, ceiling panels dangling down and a laundry room where the floor and walls were black from water damage.

Inspectors said the facility did not have any toilet paper or towels.

Sutterfield said he had already repaired many of the items the state complained about Monday when he received the notice Thursday morning.

"Am I surprised that they took my license? Yes I am," he said. "Their inspections in the past have not indicated problems of this serious nature that would call for anything like revoking my license. I don't really understand. At this time I assume I will appeal."

Sutterfield is president of the Arkansas Residential Assisted Living Association made up of nine facility owners or operators.

Residential-care facilities house residents who are elderly, mentally ill, or mentally retarded but who are not so impaired that they require nursing home care.

Jerry Rayburn, a program manager in the Office of Long Term Care, was fired Thursday morning, sources said. His job for at least 10 years was to oversee environmental and life safety code inspections for residential care facilities.

Contacted at home Thursday afternoon, Rayburn said he didn't agree with the action, but had no further comment.

Rayburn was one of seven staff members of the Office of Long Term Care who were placed on administrative leave for seven months during a separate investigation of that office involving nursing homes. He was reinstated in early November.

The agency is continuing its administrative review of all aspects of enforcement in those facilities, according to Mark Hemingway, director of the Office of Long Term Care. That includes determining why inspectors did not aggressively cite violations or enforce cleanup when violations were noted.

Rayburn has not been replaced. Rose Tabor will oversee all aspects of residential care facilities while that review is ongoing.

The problems with the facilities and with the inspections of these facilities surfaced in late December when an employee of the Disability Rights Center took pictures of Alternatives Plus in DeWitt to the Office of Long Term Care.

Ray Hanley, director of the Medical Services Division, dispatched field auditors with cameras to document violations at three other facilities also owned by Alexander or his mother.

As a result, the Office of Long Term Care is revoking the licenses of Camden Family Inn in Camden and De Queen Residential Care Facility in De Queen owned by Joe Alexander and his mother, Avanell Looney. Sparkman Care Center in Sparkman also is losing its license. Looney is its sole owner. The DeWitt facility has until today to repair and clean its center.

Alexander is also a board member of the Arkansas Residential Assisted Living Association.

Another residential care facility, which the state refused to name, had its Medicaid funds taken away Monday based on pictures by Medicaid auditors. But when residential care inspectors toured the facility, they discovered it was clean and was providing the services it had promised.

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