The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


January 28, 2013

Letter: NORCE, SORC clients need care

ENID, Okla. — One of the functions of NORCE and SORC is to provide the state of Oklahoma a “safety net” to care for those individuals with developmental disabilities not accepted by private providers when facilities are closed for any reason. The state Health Department currently lists 95 such facilities; 10 have more than 50 clients, 30 have 10 to 20 clients, and 45 have under 10 clients (average 8).

Two large facilities, approximately 100 clients each, were closed by the state Health Department during the 10 years I worked at NORCE. The Choctaw facility was closed for several reasons, including the natural death of one client in her room when it took them three days to find her body. The second one closed was Sunnyside of Enid, which had multiple deficiencies that were not corrected and that endangered the health and safety of the clients.

In both cases, representatives of private facilities “cherry-picked” the most able of the Choctaw and Sunnyside clients; They picked those that they could make the most money on — that is, those who did not require a great deal of attention and service. Finally, those clients with the most severe physical and behavior disabilities were then directed to NORCE and SORC, where they were well taken care of by dedicated staffs. Each facility got approximately 10 clients each time one of these private facilities was closed.

If both NORCE and SORC are closed, how will DHS meet these types of emergencies?

John Barton


NORCE director, 2002-2006

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