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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 Published: December 7, 2011

Repairs can't be made

The Pauls Valley facility opened in 1907 as the State Training School for White Boys, commissioners were told. The Enid facility opened in 1909 as the Oklahoma Institution for the Feeble Minded.

Commissioners were told DHS doesn't have the $34 million needed to make capital improvements such as replacing sewage lines.

“We can't both avoid capital costs and continue the same level of operation,” Hendrick told commissioners. “There's probably no way you're going to make people happy.”

Another vote ahead

Most affected will be the Pauls Valley center. The plan calls for the population there to be cut from 127 to 15.

The plan basically lets DHS close residential buildings that do not meet certain safety standards. The agency would have to make certain repairs such as installing sprinkler systems by Aug. 13, 2013, in order to keep the buildings open and continue to get Medicaid funding for residents' care and treatment.

DHS took over the two centers from the Mental Health Department in 1963. The population then at the centers was 2,298.

DHS already provides services to more than 5,000 developmentally disabled Oklahomans in community settings. Another 6,400 are on a waiting list.

Some commissioners had concerns about the plan, and the commission will vote on it again after it is finalized early next year. The Legislature can reject the plan but must do so by March 1.