Pauls Valley Democrat
The process to transition clients from the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley and its sister site NORC in Enid to community settings is still continuing without any official interruption, but for state Sen. Susan Paddack, there’s still at least one more chance to change course.
Hoping to put the beginning of a new legislative session this week to good use, Paddack plans to introduce two bills that won’t necessarily prevent transitions from happening, but give SORC a reason to stay open and keep clients either close to it or loved ones.
The reason for the push comes from concerns expressed by families and the Parent Guardian Association that enough of the needed services may not be available or at least have a safety net if community options do not work out.
“These bills really came forward after discussion with families,” said Paddack, noting how there is not a close by alternative if they cannot be placed in the available community care.
“If in fact transition is inevitable, we still have that safety net… We’re just trying to make sure it’s done correctly.”
The first of the two bills, SB 303, calls for requiring the Developmental Disability Services Division of the Department of Human Services to use both campuses to provide services along the lines of no fewer than 30 beds for acute medical care at SORC (50 at NORC), dental services, physician services, speech/language services, pharmacy services, psychological services, occupational/physical therapy services and vocational services.
Much of this is mirrored as services spread out across the state and this bill might prevent clients from having to travel far outside the area for them.
Effective by Jan. 1, 2014 if approved through state senate vote, Paddack feels it would fulfill what many have asked for in creating a true modern resource center. It would not be a focus of keeping everyone on campus, but provide a place disabled residents could visit on a regular basis for services they need and be able to handle demand be it those who transitioned or others who are in need and are on a waiting list.
Senate Bill 304 then follows up by establishing a law that any residents of either former state school must be placed within 60 miles of the residence of their legal guardian or parent or within 60 miles of the resource center in which they formerly resided. It would be effective Nov. 1, 2013 and both bills have these dates picked since SORC’s closure is currently set for April 30, 2014.
“If they move them out, they still need medical services,” said Paddack. “The idea is to truly make them medical facilities for all developmentally disabled residents.”
Paddack said for those who may choose to seek placement outside those two radius limits the bill could be adjusted before it is put into law.
For the most part she is confident that the placement limits are not a problem since services within it seem to be there or allow reasonable time to create.
Paddack also feels it is important to put measures like these in place since the governing body that made the decision for closure of both campuses cannot provide oversight since they were disbanded through public vote.
She plans to visit with her fellow legislators to find additional support and move the process forward in the following days.
“At this point we can’t make the commission decision go away,” said Paddack.
“It is troublesome that the commission that made this decision is not functioning… since there’s not a commission there’s no one providing oversight.”