Both advocates and opponents of closing Oklahoma's two institutions for adults with developmental disabilities say they want what's best for the 231 people who live there.
Those Department of Human Services staff members who have pushed to close the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley and Northern Oklahoma Resource Center in Enid have passionately argued that moving residents to community-based settings produces a better quality of life.
Parents and guardians of institution residents who oppose closure have argued with equal passion that moving residents is likely to cause transition trauma and lead to developmental setbacks and perhaps even deaths.
But what do parents and guardians of residents who have already moved from the institutions say about the results?
The Oklahoman interviewed several of them to find out.
The reports were mixed.
Life improved for sons
Susie Tingle, 57, said her twin sons spent about 10 years at the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center before she moved them 10 years ago to McCall's Chapel in Ada. “I was astounded how much life improved,” Tingle said. “I wish I had done it much sooner.”
Tingle said both of her sons were extremely medically fragile, suffering from a degenerative brain disease and blindness, and one died five years ago.
Tingle said there was a time when she would have “argued until the cows came home” against moving her sons from the Pauls Valley center, but she now believes that she made the right decision.
When her sons first moved, Tingle said she had to intervene with state officials to make sure all the medical needs of her boys were met. She said her advice to parents and guardians is to stay involved in the care of their loved ones to obtain the best outcome.
Horrific results from move
Sherry Randell, 52, of Ratliff City, said she moved her son, Richard Allen “Bubba” Randell Jr., from the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center to a group home in 2006 and the result was horrific.
Her son's caretakers drank beer and took him to casinos, Randell said.