OK DHS Commission Votes To Close Two Facilities

Thursday, November 1st 2012, 6:45 pm
By: News 9

The Oklahoma DHS Commission has decided to shut down two state facilities for developmentally disabled people. The decision came during a meeting Thursday afternoon.

The DHS commission voted 6 to 3 on a resolution that will phase out the state institutions in Pauls Valley and Enid in an effort to save money. But not everyone is sold on the idea.

"I've cried enough for my son through the years, he is 55," Ruth Wilson's tears did not stop at the Oklahoma DHS Commission meeting on Thursday.

Wilson and dozens of family members found themselves overcome with emotions as a result of the decision made by the commissioners. Wilson explains why.

"Parents have a side to tell as well and it has not been heard and as a result of this they are only hearing the positive side that they want to promote," said Wilson.

Wilson's son is one of more than 200 residents living in the Northern Oklahoma Resource Center in Enid, NORCE and the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley, SORC, at least until 2015 when both facilities will be closed. 

State Senator Patrick Anderson attempted to interrupt the vote.

"The resolution has not been provided to these families," Anderson said.

But DHS Commission Chairman Wes Lane dismissed his attempts.

"Sir, you are out of order." Lane explained, "We have not shut off anybody in this process and we have the facts to prove that."   

The DHS Commission did not take any public comments on the controversial issue, but instead explained to families of the developmentally disabled residents that each person will be assigned a case manager to help transition them into community homes. And not everyone is opposed.

Marilyn Goodban previously worked at both facilities.

"I think it's about time and I think it's a really good thing for Oklahoma," Goodban said,  

But Wilson is not convinced.

"I have had my son in the community before and at least in five different areas and it did not work out," Wilson said.

Still, it is a decision the commission and the new DHS director Ed Lake stand by.

"At the end of the day people will be better served and will function better in the community based services," said Lake.

Under the plan, the facility in Pauls Valley will close by April 2014 and the facility in Enid will close by August 2015, affecting more than 200 employees at each location.

Read more about the plan.