In the mid 1940's,
few Oklahomans could pronounce "cerebral
palsy", and even fewer people knew what to
do with a child who had a disability. That was
one of the difficulties that the J.D. McCarty
Center's first directors had to overcome.
A group called "The
40 et 8 of Oklahoma" tackled the job of
building a center where Oklahoma kids could
get intensive therapy and schooling regardless
of their race, religion or ability to pay. The
idea came about after one member of the "40
et 8" had searched the state in vain for
a place that could teach his grandson to walk
and talk. So, in 1946, the "40 et 8"
voted to begin plans for a medical facility
that would give children the help they needed
and make parents realize that there was no need
for shame or blame.
For about two years, the
"40 et 8" operated their center out
of a building on the U.S. Navy's former "South
Base" in Norman, with the first child admitted
in 1948. Just to stay afloat, the group had
to hit the streets raffling off cars, knocking
on doors and soliciting money every way they
Then, their cause found
a new champion: J.D. McCarty, a member of Oklahoma's
House of Representatives, who later became the
Speaker of the Oklahoma House. McCarty used
his influence to pass a bill to build the Oklahoma
Cerebral Palsy Institute, and another bill,
sponsored by State Senator Phil Smalley of Norman,
covered annual operating expenses. Central State
Hospital (now known as Griffin Memorial Hospital)
sold 10 acres of land for only one dollar for
the new facility to be built on.
With Representative McCarty's
support in the legislature, the institute became
a state agency, and the "40 et 8"
was allowed to remain active with the facility.
The legislature created a three member Cerebral
Palsy Commission which governed the McCarty
Center then and today. The governor appoints
members of the commission today.
The year 2001 brought a
major change to the clinical operations of the
J.D. McCarty Center. In July of that year, the
center changed its clinical care model from
a cerebral palsy focus to a broader model encompassing
a wide variety of diagnoses.
The care model that the
McCarty Center now uses has a specially trained
direct care specialist assigned to each one
or two children that are admitted to our hospital.
Among other things, these direct care specialist
make sure that the inpatient's care plan is
implemented throughout the day, including any
behavior modification plan the child might be
on, sees that the child is in therapy at the
appointed times, records and reports various
observations of the patient for the nursing
staff and assists the patient while they're
Another step in the evolution
of the McCarty Center occurred on January 12,
2000. On that day, the Oklahoma Foundation for
Persons with Disabilities (OFPD) was born with
notification from the Internal Revenue Service
that the McCarty Center's application papers
had been approved to establish a public, not-for-profit
foundation. Its sole purpose is to raise monies
for the support of various projects and programs
that will in turn benefit the children the J.D.
McCarty Center serves.
In June 2005, the foundation
board voted to change the foundation's name
to The J.D. McCarty Center Foundation.