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What is now the J. D. McCarty Center was founded in 1946, by a veterans group called the 40 et 8 of Oklahoma. The 40 et 8 was an honor society within the American Legion.

A member of this group had a grandson with cerebral palsy. He couldn’t find anywhere in the state of Oklahoma who could teach his grandson to walk or talk. This grandfather was telling some of his fellow 40 et 8 members about his frustrating search for help for his grandson while attending a statewide 40 et 8 conference. Moved by the grandfather’s story the organization voted to create a facility that would provide the physical, occupational, speech and language therapy that these children needed to reach their highest level of functionality and independence.

Their first facility was located in a building on the U. S. Navy’s former “South Base” in Norman, now the south campus of the University of Oklahoma. The first patient was admitted in 1947. The 40 et 8’s mission was to treat children regardless of race, creed, color or the ability to pay. It was the “ability to pay” part that kept the 40 et 8 in constant fundraising mode to help keep the doors open. For the long term sustainability of the facility the 40 et 8 recognized that they were going to have to do something different.

Their cause found a new champion in the person of J. D. McCarty, a member of the 40 et 8 and a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. McCarty used his influence to pass a bill to create a state agency that would treat children with cerebral palsy and be called the Oklahoma Cerebral Palsy Institute. Another bill in the senate sponsored by State Senator Phil Smalley of Norman created a state appropriation to cover annual operating expenses. So, in 1948, the Oklahoma Cerebral Palsy Institute became a state agency.

Central State Hospital (now known as Griffin Memorial Hospital) sold 10 acres of land to the Institute at the corner of Alameda and 12th Avenue N. E. in Norman for the sum of $1 for a new facility to be built. This new facility opened its doors in 1952.

The 40 et 8 remained active with the facility after it became a state agency. The legislature created a three member Cerebral Palsy Commission. This commission acts as the managing board of directors for the hospital. In the early years the commission was made up of 40 et 8 members appointed by the governor for 3 year terms. Today, the commission is composed of five members appointed by the governor, but the composition of the commission is not entirely made up of members from the 40 et 8, however; the 40 et 8 still participates in the nomination process of potential commission members to the governor. They also host an annual Christmas party and open house for the inpatients.

On February 1, 1993, The McCarty Center was licensed as a specialized pediatric rehab hospital.

The year 2001 brought a major change to the clinical operations of the J. D. McCarty Center. In July of that year, the hospital 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 child admitted to our hospital. Among other things, these direct care specialists 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 he 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 are in school.

In October 2004, the McCarty Center moved into a brand new, state-of-the-art pediatric rehab hospital facility. The new hospital is located on an 80-acre campus at the corner of E. Robinson and 24th Avenue N.E. in Norman. From this location we serve almost 200 inpatients a year and about 265 outpatients a week from all over the state of Oklahoma.