Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

June 10, 2013

Client transitions continue

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat

emann@pvdemocrat.com — What still seemed uncertain or even unthinkable for many as recently as a year ago is now seeing progress as the first set of clients from both the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center and its sister site NORC in Enid are either in transition or have officially been placed in community settings.

Along the way, those like Ann Dee Lee, public information officer for the Developmental Disabilities Services Division of the Department of Human Services, feel that as tensions over relocation have eased, there is a stronger sense of more parents and guardians reconsidering their stance against the idea.

Though only eight clients have officially found placement outside Pauls Valley’s former state school, even more are ready to move forward with options, especially since some are awaiting possibilities there may be significant development on multiple units in town later this year.

“It changes on a weekly basis, but it’s definitely moving,” said Lee. “It’s all in different phases of the process, in flux.”

Despite a significant number of clients still waiting to determine where they will go, there has been no discussion so far of altering SORC’s closure date of April 30, 2014, said Lee.

Much of why it has taken so long to transition the population of about 123 at the time of the announcement this past November ranges from which city has the best available care and who will the clients be paired with as far as roommates are concerned to what condition they personally are in.

“It’s not anything you can cookie cutter,” said Lee, adding how some transitions have had to start over or readjust if one part of the placement changes or can no longer be met. “It’s purely on a private basis.”

The progress can also be attributed to some of those who were adamant at first about not leaving either facility or even the community they were in as they determined their needs could be met after all, said Lee. There remains parents and guardians who have not changed their position on any outside possibilities, but Lee said it is not an actual reflection on a lack of availability as the DHS assistance is not limited to only areas where facilities are located.

“One gentleman was adamant about the client staying at NORCE, but now is in transition,” said Lee. “People’s minds chance when they see the options out there.”

Ultimately, Lee noted any decision on adjusting deadlines for either facility will likely not come before the fall. She believes by the end of the summer there will be a better idea of how many are ready for community options for a majority of the population, including possible placements in Garvin County and if they need more time.

“At that point they may realize these places will not be able to provide services or care and at that point we’ll have to look at reality,” said Lee, noting how people won’t be forced out if the deadline passes, but keeping the former state schools open is not an option. “The guardians can be involved or not involved as they want… some are more involved than others.”