Oklahoma Watch

6:58 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Lawmaker Blocks Bill Requiring Doctors to Check Prescription Drug Monitoring System

Lead in text: 
Last year, Oklahoma pharmacies filled 9.7 million prescriptions--or nearly 600 million doses--for controlled dangerous substances. Prescribers logged into the Prescription Monitoring Program database 1.2 million times, suggesting that many do not use the system routinely. An investigation by Oklahoma Watch and The Oklahoman determined that the lack of routine PMP checks is one factor contributing to a dramatic increase in drug overdose deaths in Oklahoma.
A bill that would require doctors to check their patients' drug histories before writing narcotic prescriptions was derailed Tuesday by a House committee chairman, but sponsors expressed hope they could keep the issue alive. The bill, requested by Gov.
Oklahoma Watch
11:00 am
Mon March 17, 2014

OKC, Tulsa Superintendents Weigh In On Read-Or-Fail Law, Common Core, The Arts

Keith Ballard, superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools, and Dave Lopez, interm superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools, answer questions from the audience on a range of education issues at an Oklahoma Watch-Out forum on March 6.
Credit Carmen Forman / Oklahoma Watch

Third-grade reading, new education standards, teacher pay and the arts were among key issues addressed by superintendents from Oklahoma’s two largest public school systems during an education forum last week.

Dave Lopez, interim superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools, and Keith Ballard, superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools, fielded questions from an audience of more than 50 during the forum, held at Kamp’s 1910 Café in Oklahoma City. The forum was sponsored by Oklahoma Watch, a nonprofit journalism organization.

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6:18 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

A Think-Twice Proposal for Divorcing Couples

Lead in text: 
A house committee has approved a bill that would require couples with children considering divorce to take a course on the effects of divorce on children.
Feb. 26: Bill Would Require Marriage Program A House committee has approved a bill that would require certain couples who have children and are seeking a divorce to go through an Oklahoma Marriage Initiative program before the divorce is granted. House Bill 2249 by Rep.
Oklahoma Watch
8:55 am
Mon October 28, 2013

New Data Reveals Widespread Financial Losses Among Small Oklahoma Hospitals

Bruce Mayhan, lab manager at Pauls Valley General Hospital, looks at a blood sample through a microscope in the hospital’s lab.
Credit Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

A majority of small general hospitals in Oklahoma are losing money, and health care officials warn that some hospitals could close, be sold or cut services.

Federal financial reports for nearly every hospital in the state, obtained by Oklahoma Watch and analyzed and reported with the Tulsa World, show that in each year from 2009 to 2012, between half and three-fourths of general hospitals with fewer than 100 beds lost money. Most are in small cities or rural areas. More than half posted losses in multiple years.

Larger hospitals fared better. In each year during the four-year period, between 7 percent and 19 percent of general hospitals with 100 beds or more lost money.

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9:53 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Sex Crimes Are Most Common Reason Police Lose Certification

Lead in text: 
From 2010 to 2012, of the 66 officers who had their certifications revoked or suspended, were given a letter of reprimand, or surrendered their certification, according to records from the Council on Law Enforcement and Education, or CLEET, 18 were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, sex crimes.
More than a quarter of Oklahoma peace officers who were disciplined by the state's certification agency or surrendered their certifications over three years were convicted of or pleaded guilty to sex crimes, according to records analyzed by Oklahoma Watch.
Oklahoma Watch
8:33 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Despite Convictions and Guilty Pleas, Law Officers Keep Certifications for Years

Shawn Theo Thomsen, a former Kingfisher County deputy, received a five-year suspended sentence in July 2010 after pleading to a felony charge of lewd acts with a child under 16. Thomsen has since moved to Texas, where he is a registered sex offender. According to state records, though, Thomsen still has an active Oklahoma peace officers certification.
Credit Texas State Offender Registry

View a map showing officers with certification actions.

In July 2010, a former Kingfisher County Sheriff’s Office deputy pleaded no contest to a charge of committing lewd acts with a child when he was an officer two years earlier.

Shawn Theo Thomsen, then 43, was given a five-year suspended sentence, court records show. Now living in Texas, he’s required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Despite the crime, Thomsen is still certified as a peace officer by the Council on Law Enforcement and Education, or CLEET. State law requires that the state agency take away certification for an officer who pleads guilty or no contest to a felony charge, thus removing him or her from law enforcement.

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Oklahoma Voices
11:24 am
Mon October 7, 2013

Even After Implementation Talk Continues In Oklahoma Over Affordable Care Act

Even though key features of the federal Affordable Care Act are now in place, the conversations continue over the law's implementation in Oklahoma.

The Republican-controlled state government continues to object to the federal mandates that are part of the new law.

Oklahoma state government, led by Gov. Mary Fallin, declined to set up a state-run exchange or accept additional Medicaid funding from the federal government.

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Oklahoma Watch
3:54 pm
Sun September 22, 2013

Faces of the Uninsured: Oklahomans Weigh Their Options On The Health-Care Marketplace

Hugh Meade
Credit Bonnie Campo / Oklahoma Watch

Hugh Meade hopes he can find a health plan that costs less than his home mortgage. Katie Bolin is looking for an insurer who won’t turn her down for pre-existing conditions. Ricardo Lopez Jr. wants coverage so he can stop going to free clinics.

Meade, Bolin and Lopez are among several hundred thousand uninsured Oklahomans whose lives could change when the next phase of the Affordable Care Act takes effect.

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Oklahoma Watch
12:16 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Oklahoma Veterans Commit Suicide At Twice The Rate Of Civilians

Credit United States Army

Oklahoma veterans and active-duty military personnel are killing themselves at twice the rate of civilians, despite increased efforts to address the problem.

The 2011 suicide rate for soldiers was about 44 per 100,000 population, according to an Oklahoma Watch analysis of Oklahoma State Department of Health data. This rate includes active-duty military as well as veterans from the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea and World War II. The civilian rate for people over the age of 18 was about 22 per 100,000.

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Point-in-Time Homeless Count
11:35 am
Wed August 28, 2013

Oklahoma Homeless Count Dips Slightly

Credit Oklahoma Watch

Nearly 4,400 homeless Oklahomans were identified during the 2013 statewide count of homeless people, reflecting a slight decrease over two years ago, according to numbers released this week by state officials.

The statewide Point-in-time Homeless Count, which is conducted in January and mandated by the federal government every two years, seeks to identify each state’s homeless population. Some cities, including Oklahoma City and Tulsa, also do homeless counts in other years, but the statewide count is biennial.

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