Disabled Oklahoma City man thrives in own home, guardian says
James Bowman, of Oklahoma City, is one of the 5,100 Oklahomans living with roommates who also have disabilities and receive medical and physical services from a contract provider in their homes.
James Bowman has never met a stranger. He's got a hug for everybody who comes in the door of his home on the southwest side of Oklahoma City.
Bowman, 34, is profoundly mentally disabled, suffers from a seizure disorder and does not talk. Those who know him know he doesn't need words to communicate. He's got expressive eyes, a wily grin, and he'll let you know when he doesn't like something, said Dee Blose, Bowman's guardian.
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Bowman is one of the 5,100 Oklahomans living with roommates who also have disabilities and receive medical and physical services from a contract provider in their homes.
Bowman left a state-run institution 10 years ago after living at the Northern Oklahoma Resource Center in Enid from childhood.
Bowman's family had not been involved in his life, so Blose volunteered to be his guardian when he began the process of leaving the center.
In his own home, Bowman wanders from room to room. He has a bedroom decorated with sports posters and enjoys sitting in a recliner on the sun porch. Bowman will gamely try to get visitors to follow him or play a game of chase through his house.
"I think he seems happier here," said Blose, who helped make decisions on what sort of care Bowman would receive.
"He has his own stuff. He can do what he wants. He's not subject to what the group wants to do."
Lawmakers are debating the future of the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley where 135 residents with mental and physical disabilities live. The center employs 328 people and costs $24.3 million to operate.
Officials with the Department of Human Services say more people could be served for less if residents of the state's institutions for the mentally and physically disabled receive services in the community.
The state would not be responsible for paying to operate a large campus of buildings, and people with similar disabilities could live together in homes, said Sheree Powell, director of public information for the Developmental Disabilities Services, a division of DHS.
With additional Medicaid funds to allocate, the state could begin addressing a backlog of people on the waiting list for services. There are 5,760 people on a waiting list for services, said James Nicholson, director of Developmental Disabilities Services with DHS.
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