Parents, guardians report mixed results in disabled adults' moves from Oklahoma centers

Both advocates and opponents of closing Oklahoma's two institutions for adults with developmental disabilities say they want what's best for residents. The Oklahoman interviewed several guardians of residents who have already moved from the institutions to find out where they stand.
by Randy Ellis Published: October 31, 2012
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Bubba, who has the mental ability of a 7-year-old, was on one behavioral medicine when he left the Pauls Valley facility, but his new doctor took him off that medication and put him on 19 others, she said.

Even more shocking, Randell said when she went to visit him in 2008, she found him “black and blue,” the victim of a beating.

Bubba, now 29, had to be taken to a hospital where he was treated for a leg infection that nearly killed him, she said.

Randell said she returned her son to the Pauls Valley center and he is back to taking one behavioral pill in the morning and one at night.

“Today my son is very, very happy. He's healthy,” said Randell, who doesn't want to be forced to move him again.

Sister flourished after move

Carl Foster's sister, Sonya, 42, lived 26 years at the Northern Oklahoma Resource Center before moving to a home in Bethany 12 or 13 years ago. Foster said his sister has flourished since the move.

Foster said his sister shares a home with two other women. All three have cerebral palsy, are severely disabled and receive round-the-clock care, he said.

“They take them shopping. They take them to the mall. They've taken them to the fair … . They take them on walks to the park … in their wheelchairs,” he said. Foster said he believes his sister is happier because she receives more one-on-one care.

Some benefit, others won't

Mary Anna Nall, 75, of Enid, worked 20 years for the Northern Oklahoma Resource Center, but now cares for one of the institution's former residents in her home.

“They do a very good job,” she said of the Enid center's workers.

Still, Nall said she believes the 36-year-old woman for whom she cares, Danielle Ioerger, has benefited from the move out into the community.

Nall said she believes some other institution residents would benefit from moves into the community, but not everyone.

Nall said she has concerns that community-based homes are not as well equipped as institutions to handle residents with certain medical problems such as severe seizures and diabetes.

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by Randy Ellis
Capitol Bureau Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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