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OKDHS addresses disability services waitlist that is +5,800 names long

Posted at 5:44 PM, Jun 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 18:44:52-04

TULSA, Ok — The state of Oklahoma is trying to help Oklahomans with disabilities.

Currently, it can take as long as 13 years to get connected to state developmental disability services because the waiting list is thousands of names long.

Lawmakers and DHS representatives say they are working hard to do a better job of providing services for residents with developmental disabilities. The list of people waiting to get those services has close to 6,000 names. 8-year-old Brooks Hobbs is one of them.

“When he was born, we knew something was off,” Chris Hobbs said, Brook’s father.

After a year and a half of doctor visits, the Hobbs family finally got a diagnosis.

“CMV, cytomegalovirus. It was an infection during pregnancy. It’s actually very common,” Hobbs said.

Brooks now lives with this preventable and potentially deadly virus.

“He’s deaf in both ears. He has bilateral cochlear implants. He has mild CP, cerebral palsy. He has thyroid issues, and he has white matter brain damage,” Hobbs explained. “For us to get him on the list, we’re looking for what’s around the corner.”

Two years ago, Hobbs signed his son up for the state's disability services waitlist to get him connected to state-funded support. The family is still waiting.

“I want the list eliminated because we’re serving people and we’re giving people the services that they need to have a quality of life. That is the goal, not to just take names off,” said Oklahoma Senator Paul Rosino.

Rosino is the vice chairman of the Oklahoma Senate Health and Human Services Committee. He has helped DHS hire a third-party corporation to connect waiting families to resources. They will also assess what it would cost to get rid of the waiting list entirely.

“Oklahoma would be considered a model state, if we’re successful in eliminating our waiting list,” Samantha Galloway said, Oklahoma Human Services chief of staff and operations.

Oklahoma’s developmental disabilities waiting list is decades old. Leaders hope to have it erased within a couple of years.

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