The Edmond Sun

Local News

July 12, 2012

State may close 1 of 2 facilities for developmentally disabled

ENID — A plan to close one of two state-run facilities for the developmentally disabled is expected to come to a vote of the Oklahoma Commission for Human Services on July 24.

The plan would close Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley and transfer clients to Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid.

State Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, has begun a letter-writing campaign with local civic clubs to urge Gov. Mary Fallin to support the plan. Fallin has not indicated which way she will go on the plan and has appointed the past two OCHS members, Anderson said. There are about 245 residents housed at the two facilities.

Mike Peck, an Enid optometrist and chairman of the OCHS property committee, gave a report during the June OCHS meeting in which he proposed closing SORC and keeping NORCE open. Both facilities need repairs, but NORCE is in better condition and more capable of housing SORC residents almost immediately, the report states.

Peck said he and other commissioners met with staff members with Developmental Disabilities Services Division (DDSD) of Oklahoma Department of Human Services. DDSD staff members will come up with the plan to be voted on by OCHS, he said.

“The state can’t continue to operate two facilities because of the cost of maintenance. It is too expensive. We must look at doing something,” Anderson said.

NORCE provides a residential center, medical and dental services, physical therapy, job skills and the recycling center, where many residents are employed, Anderson said.

“Enid is far superior and ready to take on additional clients,” he said. “We are trying to ensure Dr. Peck’s plan gets a vote at the July meeting, because the deadline is August 2013 when the SORC facility will no longer meet health department guidelines to continue to operate.”

Anderson said it is important to begin a plan to transfer residents. Peck’s plan gives families of residents the option of transferring them to NORCE or placing them in private care, Anderson said.

“Many people feel strongly the state needs to provide a safety net to those clients and families with NORCE and SORC, and the Enid facility is the best available for that,” Anderson said.

OCHS member Richard DeVaughn said he thinks the measure will be approved if it is on the agenda.

“I think it will be approved, definitely. Whether it’s on the agenda ... we’ve been assured it will be,” DeVaughn said.

DeVaughn said Peck’s plan is needed because the state does not need two institutions, but does need one. DeVaughn said he and Peck have talked with families of residents of both centers, and many want to keep their loved ones in a facility.

“Most of them have had experience with private placement and it’s not good,” he said.

Groups and politicians associated with SORC have opposed the closing of the Pauls Valley facility, proposing a plan to keep both facilities open. A House resolution in the last legislative session asked DHS not to close either one while the Legislature was not in session.

A House analysis estimated the two facilities are in need of about $30 million in repairs. DHS had been required — under terms of a bill passed by the Legislature last year — to come up with a plan for NORCE and SORC. The plan DHS came up with, which was rejected by the Legislature, called for greatly reducing SORC and keeping NORCE in operation. The plan would have reduced the patient census of SORC to about 15 by August 2013, transferring the other clients to NORCE or community housing.

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