DHS commissioners heard impassioned pleas Tuesday from parents, guardians and others concerned about a proposal to close the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center for developmentally disabled adults in Pauls Valley.
The proposal, made by DHS Commissioner Michael Peck, calls for closing the Pauls Valley center and moving some of its residents to a similar state residential center in Enid, while moving others to community-based settings.
Also proposed has been to close both the Pauls Valley center and the Northern Oklahoma Resource Center in Enid, and to move all of the residents into community-based homes. The Pauls Valley center currently serves 124 residents and the Enid center serves 111.
The controversy is fueled in part by the deteriorated condition of both facilities and high cost of fixing them. It has frustrated family members and guardians of residents of both institutions. Many said they view the state institutions as the best alternatives for their loved ones.
Marcellius Bell told commissioners he has experience with both the Enid center and with community-based services because he is guardian of a brother at Northern Oklahoma Resource Center and of two other individuals who have been transferred to a community-based group home setting.
Bell said his experience with the group home has not been good.
He said one of his wards has been sexually molested twice in four years while living in the group home.
Bell said the entire staff and house manager at the group has been replaced, which caused disturbances among some of the severely developmentally disabled residents.
The staff responded by giving them more medication for aggression and mood disorders, he said.
That's “not fair,” he said.
“Many of us here have loved ones in NORCE or SORC,” he said. “They are very well taken care of there.”
Frank Appl, treasurer of the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center, told commissioners that parents and guardians of residents there are concerned about the “transition trauma” that the residents will experience if forced to move.