ENID — Three residents at a state-run care facility for adults with developmental disabilities have died since late June, prompting investigations from two state agencies.
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services and the state Health Department have investigated these deaths involving residents at the Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid.
The center is an intermediate care facility for people with severe or profound developmental disabilities. The facility is scheduled to close in 2015, and DHS has been in the process of transitioning residents to community placements.
There are currently 92 residents at the center, and 259 staff employed at the facility, according to DHS. DHS has recently added additional staff members, although the center was meeting the minimum staffing requirements, according to the agency.
DHS spokeswoman Sheree Powell said two female residents and one male resident in their late 40s and 50s have died since late June. One resident died in late June, another in early July and another in mid-July, she said.
“Because there were three in a short period of time, in a matter of a few weeks, we are taking this very seriously,” Powell said. “We have implemented a lot of different things to try to make sure that there were no problems as far as staffing or the quality of care that would have contributed to the clients' deaths.”
Each resident was admitted to a nearby hospital for different reasons, and all three died at the hospital, she said. Since January, five residents of NORCE have died, including the three recent deaths.
Powell said the agency doesn't suspect there is any connection between any of the residents' deaths.
Each of the three residents who died had multiple types of medical challenges and disabilities, including feeding tubes and catheters, she said.
“There's no indication that any of them were caused by abuse or neglect, but we are investigating that,” she said.
Powell said whenever a resident dies in any DHS facility, the agency has policies in place to investigate the death and also investigate whether staff acted appropriately.
The state Health Department's investigation found allegations of neglect at the facility to be unsubstantiated, according to an investigation report released Tuesday.
The report primarily focuses on one 57-year-old female patient who died after going to the hospital in late June.
Her cause of death included “acute cardiovascular insufficiency, sepsis, respiratory failure and pulmonary edema,” according to the report. The report notes that the female patient had suffered from seizures, congestive heart failure and several other health issues.
The other two residents' causes of death were not included in the report released Tuesday.
Mike Cook, the assistant chief of long-term care at the state Health Department, said the department began its investigation after a complaint was filed.
Cook said he couldn't expand on the specific details of the complaint, but he said it was related to an allegation that a resident suffered from a bowel obstruction.
The health department's report notes two death reviews are still pending.