The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

January 17, 2013

Still fighting: Bills could continue NORCE, SORC services; e-mail outlines animosity

(Continued)

ENID, Okla. —

Failure to communicate

Paddack told the News & Eagle SB 303 will beef up occupational and medical facilities at NORCE and SORC.

“The whole idea, now that the commission — before they were gotten rid of — voted to close those facilities. Our hope is that occupational opportunities they provide at those facilities, and the medical treatment, is still important,” Paddack said.

As the state moves the residents into the community, Paddack wants NORCE and SORC to be hubs of occupational, medical and recreational services. As the residents transition into group homes, they still need those opportunities and a safety net. Paddack said she is “troubled”  about the way the transitions are being handled.

“We were assured before the commission took the vote that if they voted to close it, a transition would be done taking into consideration their best interests,” Paddack said. “I always felt those residents deserve consideration.”

Paddack said the parents and guardians are fearful due to lack of communication. The Legislature did not approve the DHS plan, and now there is no commission to provide oversight.

“Other than the agency, where are the checks and balances? ... The commission decided to close NORCE and SORC, and now they are doing the transitioning,” Paddack said.

She said the decision is very unfortunate for the residents of those facilities. The Legislature still has not completely resolved the plan.

SB 304 is a transition item. Another fear of parents and guardians is they will be moving from Pauls Valley to places far away, such as Tulsa, and they won’t be able to see their loved ones as often. The bill says they cannot move the residents more than 60 miles from their home or current facility.

“For five years I was told there is a strategic plan and they would build some new facilities. The group homes do not exist. SORC and NORCE have some severely challenged individuals. They are going to have to have a level of care appropriate for the client. Moving them into group homes is not enough,” Paddack said.

Paddack claimed an insufficient number of group homes to house the residents of SORC and NORCE. The DHS approved a plan that would move them out at a rate of 10 per month, but she said there is no place for them to go.

“There is no governmental body overseeing. Who’s minding the store, who is making sure they have service in place for the residents?” Paddack said.

Rep. Mike Jackson, R-Enid, House Speaker Pro-Tem, is unfamiliar with Paddack’s bills, but he will consider them.

Jackson himself filed a bill Thursday dealing with NORCE and SORC. The shell bill has no details yet, but Jackson said he is working out the best way to address the issue. The bill deals with the Department of Human Services.

 State Rep. Lisa Billy, R- Purcell, also has filed legislation addressing the situation, along with a number of others. SORC is in Billy’s House district.

Go to http://enidnews.com to read Anderson’s press release and Lane’s email.

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