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Not all patients will thrive after closing resource centers

Published: November 9, 2012

Regarding “DHS vote to close 2 centers angers families at meeting” (News, Nov. 2): Regretfully, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services Commission has caved in to economic and political pressures by voting to sentence a small group of disabled and powerless citizens to a community home system designed for a much higher level of intellectual and physical ability. Those left behind are a sub-group that won't thrive or may not even survive the transition to an environment where they aren't able to comprehend or function.

Praise God for those who'll benefit from a community-based home. I would give my life if my child could also thrive in that environment, but she can't. Because of her special needs, she'll eventually be discarded from a group home at the first opportunity and will be condemned to a “locked room” in another facility designed for the care of the mentally ill. That is her “less restricted environment” future as a result of the commission's decision to close the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley and the Northern Oklahoma Resource Center in Enid.

The endorsements of former institutional patients who've transferred to community group homes have been used by the commission to justify closing the resource centers, but those patients aren't typical of those few who remain at Pauls Valley and Enid who require a greater level of care. Even if the appropriate level of care in a community setting could be provided for those remaining residents of SORC and NORC, the Legislature will find that the funding will be much greater than what would have been required to maintain the facilities.

I pray that those in authority will revisit the decision to close those facilities that provide the minimum care necessary for the survival of the neediest physically and mentally handicapped citizens of Oklahoma.

Fred G. Jones, Oklahoma City

Jones is the parent of a 55-year resident of the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley.

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