The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 31, 2012

Wording of agenda item on NORCE, SORC is troubling and has a lot of people concerned

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Oklahoma Commission on Human Services is scheduled to discuss and possibly vote today on the future of two state-run centers for the developmentally disabled, one of which is Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid. The wording of the agenda item has us concerned, and we would hope the final motion that is voted on is changed to reflect what makes more sense.

The agenda for today’s meeting includes this: “Discussion and possible vote on a plan to close the Northern Oklahoma Resource Center at Enid and the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center at Pauls Valley and transition all residents into community-based homes.”

The word “and” is troubling. The plan we have heard discussed the most was one brought up by Enid optometrist Michael Peck, a member of OCHS. His plan would close Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley, which is in need of costly repairs, and keep NORCE open.

Clients at SORC would be moved to NORCE, or into community group homes.

To us, the so-called “Peck plan” makes more sense than does closing both facilities.

It appeared that plan had a majority of support from OCHS members, but the situation changed during the past few months as new OCHS members were appointed by Gov. Mary Fallin, who also took more interest in the future of the facilities.

Enid legislators were highly optimistic after Fallin made an unannounced visit to Garfield County. NORCE benefits from Enid being a medical hub with specialized services.

Our fear is the quality of care clients at NORCE and SORC currently are receiving will be diminished if the facilities are closed and they are moved to community-based homes. It would not be in the best interest of some of the state’s most vulnerable residents to close both NORCE and SORC.

Unfortunately, those people are among the least politically connected, and we hope any decision is not based on politics.