News Release   

May 27, 2014 

OHCA Contacts: Jo Kilgore - (405) 522-7474, Jennie Melendez - (405) 522-7404 

Living Choice Program Transitions Oklahomans to Community Living  

Bobby Neely considers himself blessed every time he enters his Tulsa apartment. Three and a half years ago he was living in a nursing facility – completely dependent on others for his care and life decisions – then he heard he had a choice. 

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s (OHCA) Living Choice program helped Neely transition from the facility into an independent living setting. In doing so, the program also returned him to some of his passions as well as his everyday routines and opportunities.  

Neely preached his first sermon on June 16, 1967. In the decades to follow, he served as a pastor to many in the Tulsa area. He spent years visiting the sick and praying for countless families. In addition, he coached basketball and spent time helping find college sports scholarships for many of the area’s at-risk youth. 

In 2010, Neely died. He had suffered from organ failure and doctors termed him clinically dead for seven seconds. However, he revived although it was to a comatose state. When Neely finally awoke in ICU, he was unable to walk, he had lost other motor skills and was told the cause of these severe health issues was unknown. After numerous tests and an unrelated surgery to remove his gall bladder, Neely was placed in a nursing facility to undergo rehabilitation. 

Without warning, Neely lost his independence and mobility and wasn’t given much hope of regaining either. 

During his nursing facility stay, Neely worked with rehab specialists to regain his motor skills, and a social worker to regain his independence. It was during this time that he became familiar with the Living Choice program. When he was told about the possibility of leaving the nursing facility, Neely said it was “music to my ears!” 

“When they (OHCA Living Choice staff) find a person who has a will and a way out of their situation, and need support to transition out of a nursing facility, they do whatever it takes to help them,” Neely said. 

A transition coordinator worked with Neely to get him moved out of the facility into an apartment. He expressed appreciation for the professionalism of the agency and its staff in getting him to “this place of residence I can call home.” 

“I want everyone to know this program is necessary; it was necessary for me and is necessary for others,” he added. 

As a participant of Living Choice, Neely also qualifies for SoonerCare (Oklahoma Medicaid) benefits. Recently, the program assisted him with back surgery and additional rehab. Neely applauds the program for continuing to help him return to better health and strength, thus helping him avoid another nursing facility stay. 

As a nursing facility resident, Neely was unable to regularly watch his beloved basketball on television. Today, he has been enjoying watching the OKC Thunder battle through the NBA playoffs, from the comfort of his own home – a simple luxury to most, but a dream come true to the self-proclaimed Thunder’s biggest fan. Neely spends his days with his grandchildren and is once again volunteering in the Tulsa community.  

He credits the OHCA and Living Choice program with making all of this possible. 

The Living Choice program promotes community living for Oklahomans 19 years and older with a disability or long-term illness. It provides participants with options and assistance in managing their health care needs in the more economical community setting. More than 240 Oklahomans have transitioned back into the community from long-term care facilities since the program’s inception. Visit www.oklivingchoice.org or call (888) 287-2443 for more information or to make a referral. Anyone can make a referral, including an individual, family member or medical home provider. 


 

Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, known as SoonerCare, is administered by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA). SoonerCare works to improve the health outcomes of Oklahomans by ensuring that medically necessary benefits and services are responsive to the health care needs of our members. Qualifying Oklahomans include certain low-income children, seniors, the disabled, those being treated for breast or cervical cancer and those seeking family planning services. Insure Oklahoma assists qualifying adults and small business employees in obtaining health care coverage for themselves and their families. OHCA strives to educate and engage our current 808,406 members regarding personal responsibilities for their health services utilization, behaviors and outcomes in partnership with a state-wide network of 38,998 providers. For more information, visit www.okhca.org.