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.
Before a person can be discharged from one of the two facilities, a DHS representative meets with staff at the center and collects individual case information in order to find a private center that best fits the person's needs.
Parents and guardians had questions for the panel Thursday about procedures to follow during the transfer process and in day-to-day care.
Some guardians alleged many transition recommendations were not being followed by private centers and said there appeared to be a lack of cooperation and knowledge among staff at some of the community-based homes.
The panel itself cannot make any changes to procedure, only offer advice to policymakers, panel member Dr. Thomas Walls said.
Panel member Diana McCalment told guardians to work with their DHS case workers to resolve any issues and urged them to go up the chain of command if necessary.