After an emotional debate in the State Senate on Tuesday, members voted to disapprove a plan critics say could cause the deaths of some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. House Concurrent Resolution 1030, by Rep. Lisa Billy and Sen. Susan Paddack, was an effort to block a Department of Human Services (DHS) proposal the lawmakers said would ultimately force the closure of SORC, the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center, in Pauls Valley.
The DHS plan called for SORC and NORCE, the Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid, to decrease their populations from 242 to 112 residents by August 2013. Advocates of the plan said it was necessary because too many buildings were out of compliance with federal standards, but the cost of updating the facilities would be too great.
“I have been working closely with the family members of these residents, and they were not afforded adequate input on this plan. Their loved ones are among the most severely disabled people in Oklahoma,” said Paddack, D-Ada. “Many of these patients do not desire community-based care, and for others, the trauma of being moved away from the only home they know could literally kill them.”
The House approved HCR 1030 on Monday. Paddack and Billy both expressed their gratitude to their fellow members for supporting the legislation.
“We cast votes every session that impact people’s lives. But for those of us who have gotten to know these families and their loved ones, we have gained deep understanding of what is at stake here,” said Billy, R-Purcell. “Senator Paddack and I are profoundly grateful for the support of the House and Senate on our legislation.”
Now that both chambers have disapproved the DHS plan for the facilities, Paddack and Billy will work in collaboration with others for the creation of a new long-term plan for SORC and NORCE.