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Facility reopens with new name, fire sprinklers

By JIM ROSS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 20, 2002

INVERNESS -- The assisted living facility formerly known as Countryside Manor has reopened with a new name -- and a new sprinkler system.

The state suspended Countryside's license in September 2000 because the home, despite repeated warnings from county officials, failed to install a fire safety sprinkler system. Residents had to be relocated.

Laurene Holder, the Countryside administrator, chastised county officials at the time, saying the home was making reasonable efforts to get the sprinklers installed and, in the meantime, was taking extraordinary safety measures to protect residents.

She said the county unnecessarily pushed the state to suspend the license.

County and state officials said they were acting to protect the home's 32 residents. They further noted that they had given the home's ownership ample time to make the necessary equipment installations.

The facility, now called Pleasant Grove Manor, has a sprinkler system "above and beyond what the requirements are," said Holder, who is administrator at Pleasant Grove and its sister facility, the 60-bed Sugarmill Manor assisted living facility. Both are owned by DOS Healthcare of Miami.

"It's a relief," Holder said last week. "It was a learning experience. I'm glad that's behind me."

Holder said the company took advantage of the down time to renovate the facility. It now has 28 beds, four fewer than before it closed.

And the name change? Well, the home is located on Pleasant Grove Road (County Road 581) south of Inverness.

"We just thought it would be a good idea after all we've been through," Holder said. "Plus, it makes sense with the name of the road. We just thought the timing was good for that."

Pleasant Grove had 20 residents last week. According to Holder, the home "is just like brand new."

In other medical news:

BIRTH DEFECTS: Because January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, the state Department of Health and the Citrus County Health Department have passed along the following information:

Birth defects have been the leading cause of infant mortality during the past 20 years, both nationally and in Florida. The Florida Birth Defects Registry estimates that one of every 40 babies is born with a birth defect.

Some birth defects are preventable. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, for example, is a leading cause of mental retardation and is completely preventable. A woman who is pregnant or planning a pregnancy should avoid alcohol, smoking, street drugs and medications, as these can cause birth defects and pregnancy complications.

All women capable of becoming pregnant should take a daily multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of the B-vitamin folic acid.

Studies show that taking this vitamin prior to pregnancy, and in the early weeks of pregnancy, reduces the risk of having a baby with certain birth defects of the brain and spine, including spina bifida, the leading cause of childhood paralysis.

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