The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 25, 2013

Health Department investigates death of NORCE resident

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Oklahoma State Department of Health investigators are looking into the death last month of a resident at Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid.

OSDH spokeswoman Leslea Bennet-Webb confirmed the agency has received information about the death of 57-year-old Amy “Lynette” Williams, who was taken to the St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center and died shortly afterward June 20.

Bennet-Webb declined to elaborate on the nature of the investigation or any other details about it.

Reached at home in Dumas, Texas, Lynette’s father Bob said she had died of a septic infection.

“And that was because of, well it’s pretty self explanatory. They wasn’t on top of the situation,” he said.

Williams fears investigators will try to blame the caregivers at NORCE for his daughter’s death, and said the problem there is more institutional. Because the facility is expected to close in 2015, Williams suspects staffing levels have fallen as health care workers have begun searching for new jobs.

“They had been, for a long time, very good. She had excellent care there at the facility, but when they started closing it, there was no way they could take care of all the people they had and give them the proper care that they needed,” Williams said. “I think that’s going to be verified when they do this investigation.”

The new investigation by the Health Department is different from the mandatory inquiry being conducted by Department of Human Services whenever someone in its custody dies.

DHS is the agency that operates NORCE, while the Health Department is the licensing agency for health care facilities in the state.

A spokeswoman for DHS was not available for comment by press time.

NORCE is a state facility that provides institutional care for the developmentally disabled. Its sister facility in Pauls Valley is expected to close next year.