photo courtesy of Antonia Pratt-Reid
Antonia Pratt-Reid was asked by a friend if she would be interested in serving as medical director for Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in 2008. He told her that the state institution for profoundly intellectually disabled patients would likely be closed down in a few years.
But Pratt-Reid, a family nurse practitioner who has run her own practice in Oklahoma since 2001, had no qualms about taking on more responsibilities.
In fact, she didn’t think twice about driving an hour in a half each way twice a week to care for patients, only to return and see patients at her practice, Family HealthCare & Minor Emergency Clinic.
Fast forward to 2015 — Southern Oklahoma Resource Center, which was founded in the early 1930s, was closed by state mandate, and some 650 patients were moved into community homes.
Today, Pratt-Reid still takes care of about 300 of these patients, making house calls, and caring for patients who are transported to her practice.
According to the National Council on Disability, the number of people with intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities (ID/DD) residing in state-run institutions has declined from a peak of 194,650 in 1967 to 32,909 in 2009.
The extent to which states continue to rely on institutions to house people with ID/DD varies significantly by state. Eleven states have closed all their state-run institutions, while others have resisted closing any.
Pratt-Reid noted that many nurses at the institution had served these very patients for 25 years, and some even for as long as 30 to 35 years.
She was extremely concerned that more than 75 percent of the new caregivers did not have any significant medical training aside from an 8-week course on medications.
The patient population presents with seizures, behavior disorders, and a myriad of mental issues. Some patients are ambulatory, while others are completely bed-ridden. There are patients with hydrocephalus . Children who were very spastic were given surgical procedures to release the muscles so they had no function of their legs.