Oklahoma Department of Human Services to reduce population at centers for mentally disabled

Oklahoma Department of Human Services commissioners approve the “plan in principle.”
BY NOLAN CLAY nclay@opubco.com Published: December 7, 2011
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The Oklahoma Department of Human Services plans to keep open two state-run centers for the mentally disabled but cut the number of residents from 242 to 112.

DHS commissioners on Tuesday approved a “plan in principle” that will move most residents at the Pauls Valley and Enid centers into community settings by Aug. 13, 2013.

State legislators earlier this year passed a law requiring the agency to come up with a plan by Jan. 1 to either change or discontinue the operation of the state-run resource centers.

Many of the residents at the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley and the Northern Oklahoma Resource Center in Enid have lived there for years. Some have been there for decades.

Most of their relatives wanted DHS to let the residents stay.

In a report to commissioners, one parent predicted his daughter will be heavily sedated, locked in a room or dead in a year if she is moved to a community setting. “Our daughter has lived at Pauls Valley since September of 1961 and it is the only home and family that she knows,” the parent said.

Another resident's family said in the report, “The primary concern is that in a group home the client will be put in a bean bag chair and left while the ‘caregiver' watches ‘Wheel of Fortune.'”

DHS Director Howard Hendrick said the agency has no choice but to make changes because the Legislature won't provide funding to repair the aging campuses.

“I think we have a clear message,” the director said of the Legislature.