McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

October 24, 2013

NORCE compromise a nonstarter

Gov. Fallin says community-based care is better for everyone

ENID, Okla. — Those trying to convince Gov. Mary Fallin the state should keep at least some beds available for the developmentally disabled will find a tough customer to sway.

That option appears to be the leading compromise going into the 2014 legislative session. Only time will tell, though, whether Enid’s state legislators can convince the Department of Human Services or the governor’s office to change course and keep Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid open past 2015.

State Rep. Mike Jackson, R-Enid, has signaled he might introduce legislation to prevent the facility’s closure. In a hearing at the state Capitol last week, Jackson said he was not opposed to transitioning residents from NORCE to private care, but added there could be some residents who would respond better if they remained under the state’s care.

Not so, said Fallin, who said she believes community-based care for the developmentally disabled is the better option for everyone.

“I think the thought is that we want the best care, the best quality, the best models, the best systems of care for these individuals,” she said during a visit to Enid Thursday. “And things have changed since the state started institutionalizing individuals. We don’t feel like that’s the best kind of care for an individual.”

NORCE is on track to close in August 2015 and its sister facility in Pauls Valley will close next year. The now-disbanded Human Services Commission voted in 2012 to close the state’s two residential facilities.

Caring for the developmentally disabled is a difficult issue, Fallin said.

“Any time you have people with severe medical conditions, those who have developmental disabilities, we always want to do the very best thing we can to provide quality health care services, make sure they’re safe and protected, and receive the kind of care and service that they deserve,” she said.

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