The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 3, 2012

First clients to leave NORCE identified

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Administrators have received a list of the first 50 residents of the Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid to be transferred to group homes.

NORCE Administrator Sally Randall said the names were received shortly after the Nov. 1 Oklahoma Commission for Human Services meeting in which the decision was made to close NORCE by August 2015 and Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley by April 2014. Both state-run facilities care for developmentally disabled clients.

There are an estimated 240 clients in NORCE and SORC who have to find new homes.

Time frames for transferring clients differ depends on medical needs and modifications that need to be made on the homes selected, Randall said.

No home has yet been selected for the clients, and guardians and parents of clients will meet with providers and determine which facility will best suit family members’ needs, she said.

Randall said the clients identified at NORCE and SORC — not the centers’ most medically fragile — live in buildings that have no sprinkler systems. Those buildings will be decertified once all of their clients are removed.

Randall had funding planned to install sprinkler systems and budgeted for it a few years ago.

“We were working on encumbering the money within our budget to take care of the sprinkling issue,” she said. “At the time, we were told to hold off.”

Randall said the image of a group home is different than it once was. Formerly, clients lived in group homes that housed 15 to 16 people.

“The term ‘group home’ is really archaic,” she said. “There are some that still have a few living in them, but the homes we’re talking about are pretty much like yours and mine. There will be two or three roommates living together sharing expenses.”

Those clients have health and medical needs, Randall said, and the most important aspect is to contract the needed medical, vocational and therapeutic services that are required.

Those contractors currently exist, and new ones are being developed, she said.

Still, some of the clients have lived at NORCE for 30 to 40 years, and Randall said the move will have a big impact on them.

Randall, who has spent more than 35 years working with people with disabilities, said she considers it a career, not just a job.

“I think of it as a true advocacy, (to) try to seek out the best quality providers possible, that’s what I am doing,” she said. “I want this to work and for the families to be as comfortable as possible in this transition. We’re moving forward with this.”