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Southern Oaks approved to admit special-needs residents

Southern Oaks assisted living facility has been approved to house adults with mental diseases or disabilities.

That approval came following a inspection of the facility buildings on Wednesday, in which the main building, called Building 1, got a perfect score of 100 and the proposed specialty care building, Building 2, got a score of 99.

“Assisted living facilities re governed by the State of Alabama Department of Public Health,” said director Vickie Taylor. “They have periodic unannounced surveys. The first survey since I’ve been here was on Dec. 26, 2006, where we scored a 37. Anything less than an 80 is considered a failed score, and results in enforcement action.

“When we received the 37 score, Rick Cagle purchased the facility, hired me, and this score (100) reflects what changes have been made since then.”

This most recent survey took three days, beginning on Monday, and concluded with an exit interview.

“The surveyor said, ‘What did you think you scored?’,” Taylor said. “I told her that I knew I didn’t score a ‘red’ (failing grade), because we all worked so hard. She smiled at us and had the survey reports in front of her, and she flipped them around and laid them down in front of us. At that point, you could have heard me scream!

“We were very ecstatic, crying. Even the surveyor cried! She said that it was very rare for a survey to score a 100, and that we should be proud for what we had done.”

Taylor said that Southern Oaks is in the process of converting the back building, Building 2, into a specialty care assisted living facility, which has taken more than a year to get up to code.

“According to the surveyor, we should be able to start admitting residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s within a week,” Taylor said. “The exciting part is that we have people on a waiting list to come here for specialty care.

“It will have a magnetic door-locking system and enclosed courtyards for safety. We will have a well-trained staff who are trained in dementia and Alzheimer’s.”

Taylor said that she would wait a week before advertising the opening of the new building, a 16-bed facility.

“We’re going to have a grand opening, hopefully in the next week or so, for our new facility,” she said. “It will be called ‘Southern Oaks Specialty Care Assisted Living of Demopolis.’ We are very proud.”

Southern Oaks is located on U.S. Highway 43 South.