Tabernacle Gardens opens

Published 9:35 pm Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ben Fitzgerald III shows off one of the rooms at the Tabernacle Gardens Assisted Living Facility on East Washington Street during an open house Thursday.

Ben Fitzgerald III shows off one of the rooms at the Tabernacle Gardens Assisted Living Facility on East Washington Street during an open house Thursday.

A new assisted living facility has opened on East Washington Street, in the same building as one that had numerous alleged issues and eventually closed two years ago.

Tabernacle Gardens Assisted Living Facility held an open house for community members on Thursday. It plans to begin accepting residents June 1, said Pastor Ben Fitzgerald III, who leads the neighboring Tabernacle Christian Church.

The church spearheaded an effort to take over the facility and reopen it after its numerous problems forced it to close in June 2013. But the assisted living facility now is owned by a nonprofit entity with a diverse board of directors, many of whom are not affiliated with the church, Fitzgerald said.

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“The name is an homage to the church, of course,” Fitzgerald said.

The nonprofit holds a long-term lease to purchase and has done heavy renovations to the facility, including new plumbing, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, a new ceiling, a new sprinkler system and a new fire monitoring system.

There is new hardwood furniture in each room. Cable lines currently are being run to each room, and they are working on getting a television in each room, Fitzgerald said.

A new nurse call bell and intercom system also have been installed.

“These are things that, for years, did not work here,” Fitzgerald said.

Many pieces of new kitchen equipment have also been installed, he said.

With room for 98 residents, the facility is equipped to serve geriatric residents “who need some measure of care in their day-to-day living,” Fitzgerald said — perhaps help with bathing, medications or meals.

Three meals and two snacks will be served daily. Each room includes a toilet and sink, with group showers since many residents will need help bathing anyway, Fitzgerald said.

One registered nurse, two licensed professional nurses and a host of certified nurse assistants already have been hired, Fitzgerald said. He claimed the facility will have “more nurses per patient than any other facility in this area. We didn’t go minimums on anything. We just wanted to go above and beyond.”

A full-time activities director also will work at the facility and already has planned karaoke, trips to activities such as the mall and the theater, a seniors’ prom and a Christmas dance.

Fitzgerald said the facility will be a far cry from the former Oakwood Assisted Living.

“Before, that place was known as a catch-all,” he said. “We only want to accept residents who we are very sure we can comfortably care for.”

The new facility’s website is, and administrators can be reached at 809-1970.

Oakwood Assisted Living closed amid multiple violation notices and investigations, which included alleged incidents such as physical confrontations, drug abuse, inadequate food and failure to follow treatment plans.

In April 2012, a 92-year-old woman was hospitalized after being attacked at Oakwood by a 42-year-old man, a fellow resident. She later died, and her family filed a wrongful death suit.

Allegations also included a female staff member letting residents watch pornographic videos in her care during the overnight shift.

The facility’s former owner, Scott Schuett, has been stripped of his license to operate such facilities and has filed bankruptcy.