Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

At the Oaks Retirement Community, 'Hugs Are Big'; It's Landscaped, It's Beautiful, and It Has a Military Museum

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

At the Oaks Retirement Community, 'Hugs Are Big'; It's Landscaped, It's Beautiful, and It Has a Military Museum

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE KERRIGAN

The Oaks of Green Cove Springs, formerly Magnolia manor, opened in June as an assisted living facility.

John Soileau, president of Metabolic Research Centers, acquired the facility after the previous owners went into bankruptcy and the property at 3339 U.S. 17, just north of the town limits, was foreclosed.

"Our first job was to renovate everything," court-appointed receiver Marcus Fields said of the 330,000-square-foot building. "We redid the courtyard. It was badly overgrown. We added new landscaping, renovated the interior and painted inside and out. We wanted to create bright surroundings for residents. We refurbished the dining room, revamped the kitchen, installed new air conditioning, and carpeted throughout."

"What did you do with the pig?" I asked.

The former owners kept a pet pig in the courtyard.

Laughing, Fields said, "We got rid of the pig. We sent him to a petting zoo. That's why we had to redo the courtyard. Residents now have a nice setting in which to read, chat, and enjoy the outdoors."

Fields, a graduate of the University of Florida, will oversee the operation until it turns the corner financially. Deborah Brown, brought in by Fields as administrator, will then assume full control. Brown graduated from Florida A&M University with a business administration degree and studied marketing at Florida Community College at Jacksonville.

"We provide a warm and friendly environment," she said. "We encourage residents to maintain a comfortable level of independence. We also encourage social interaction to promote an active and healthy lifestyle. It's important that each individual feels he or she is among family. When I come in to work in the morning, I'm greeted by hugs by everyone I meet. Hugs are big around here."

Resident Charlotte Tucker is impressed with the food service, with a registered dietician supervising all meals.

"It's like dining at a five-star restaurant," Tucker said.

One special feature of the Oaks, which has 60 beds and 45 units, is the Military Museum of North Florida. The museum dominates one end of the Patriot's Cove, an area that is geared to veterans. …

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