Three residential care facilities ordered to close can remain open, at least for today, because of a temporary restraining order granted Monday in Pulaski County Chancery Court.
The facilities' owners, Sparkman Residential Care Inc., De Queen Residential Care Inc. and Victory Plus Inc., filed a request for a temporary restraining order to keep the state from closing the homes.
The three companies also appealed the Office of Long Term Care's decision to revoke the homes' licenses.
Chancellor Collins Kilgore will preside over a hearing on the restraining order at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
The hearing will address whether the closure order is legal and whether the homes can remain open during the appeal of the license revocations.
"Our sole purpose is to prohibit [the Office of Long Term Care] from taking the residents out of the facilities and to maintain the status quo," said attorney Marshall Ney of the Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates and Woodyard law firm in Little Rock, which is defending the three care facilities.
On Feb. 17 the Office of Long Term Care, a division of the state Department of Human Services, moved to revoke the licenses of the Sparkman Care Center in Sparkman, the De Queen Residential Care Facility in De Queen and the Camden Family Inn in Camden, owned by Victory Plus Inc.
The residential care facilities house those who are elderly, mentally ill, or mentally retarded but who are not so impaired that they require nursing home care.
Ney said the Human Services Department had begun trying to remove residents when the restraining order was filed.
The appeal of the license revocation is based in part on the Arkansas Administrative Procedure Act, which states that a closing cannot occur without a hearing and decision.
A hearing on the appeal of the license revocations has not been scheduled.
"This was not unexpected," said Kurt Knickrehm, director of the Human Services Department. He said he wouldn't comment further about the facilities until the Wednesday hearing.
The Office of Long Term Care made special visits to the facilities in early February after determining that previous inspectors did not aggressively cite the centers for violations or enforce cleanup.
Photographs of the centers showed regulatory violations like uncovered electrical outlets, roaches, unheated rooms and commodes covered with feces.
In letters to the facilities, the department stated, "The revocation will remain in effect during the time of the appeal."