The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

January 4, 2013

A decision needs to be made on the future use of facilities at NORCE

ENID, Okla. — As the state continues to consider the future of clients at two state-run facilities for the developmentally disabled, we hope they consider future uses for the buildings at Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid.

The state has decided to close NORCE and Southern Oklahoma Resource Center at Pauls Valley and put the clients at both facilities in community-based group homes.

SORC is to close in 2014, NORCE in 2015, unless action by the Legislature reverses the decision.

State Sen. Patrick Anderson is one of the critics of the decision, in part because the system of group homes that would be needed to handle the clients from NORCE and SORC does not exist. In short, there simply are not enough places for them.

The state would contract with a private company or companies to run the group homes.

One thing we would hope state officials consider as they look into this issue is to consider using the facilities at NORCE. Would it be feasible for a private company to operate the facilities at NORCE?

There is precedent for such an operation.

Robert M. Greer Center, which is located on the NORCE campus, operates independently of NORCE and has a long-term contract with the state through Liberty Health Care.

Greer Center cares for clients who are diagnosed as developmentally disabled and mentally ill and has been operated by Liberty since 1999.

It has been a successful operation.

Given this successful partnership, it would make sense to consider a similar arrangement with the NORCE facility.

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