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Oklahoma panel hears concerns from guardians of disabled individuals

The parents and guardians of clients at Oklahoma's two care centers for severely disabled individuals expressed concerns over the mandatory transfers of their loved ones ahead of the closure of the two centers.
by Graham Lee Brewer Modified: January 24, 2014 at 3:00 pm •  Published: January 23, 2014

Ken Appl moved his severely disabled teenage daughter into the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley in 1979 with the understanding this would be her permanent home.

Now, he fears for her future as he tries to move her to a private, community-based place of care before the state Department of Human Services closes the center in April.

“She won't last very long (in a private center),” he said Thursday. “She needs caregivers who will talk to her and care about her. Her caregivers really do love her. I don't see that happening in the community.”

Appl told a DHS panel of several cases of people who had problems after being moved from the facility to private care centers. Some had trouble adjusting and acted out, in one case resulting in an arrest. Others became depressed or anxious. One person had a feeding tube infection that proved fatal, he said.

In November 2012, the Human Services Commission voted 6-3 to close both the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center (SORC) in Pauls Valley and the Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid (NORCE).

Panel only can offer advice

NORCE is scheduled for closure in August 2015. Parents and guardians who attended Thursday's meeting said they were unhappy with the fact no state facilities will be available after the closures, leaving them only with options in the private sector.

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by Graham Lee Brewer
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Graham Lee Brewer began his career as a journalist covering Oklahoma's vibrant music scene in 2006. After working as a public radio reporter for KGOU and then Oklahoma Watch, where he covered areas such as immigration and drug addiction, he went...
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