May 27, 2014
OHCA Contacts: Jo Kilgore - (405) 522-7474, Jennie Melendez -
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
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.