November 23, 2021

Local Resident

Turns 103-Years-Young

There aren’t too many people who can say they have lived through two global pandemics, but Gussie Leven has! Gussie recently celebrated her 103rd birthday in style at Oakwood Residence, a Personal Care Community on Red Lion Road in the Northeast with a beautiful gala birthday celebration that brought together her family, including her son Ray, her friends, and beloved Oakwood staff. The momentous occasion was an opportunity for Gussie to reflect on her life, who admitted that she “feels like an old lady now” With so many years of experience, Gussie shared her secret to her longevity: “praying, living life and a glass of wine each day or two”

A Life Well Lived
Gussie’s parents and older sister came through Ellis Island from a shtetel in Russia before settling in South Philadelphia. The family soon grew to include four girls, and Gussie would make a point to talk to her three sisters every day. Gussie loved school, graduating high school at 15, but as a lifelong learner her educational journey didn’t end there. She took several classes later in her fifties. Gussie has always loved participating in programs at her local temple, acting (she had a stint in NYC), and still enjoys reading and writing.

Gussie was a hard worker, holding several jobs over the years, including the administrative assistant. She also taught steno script at Haverford Night school and worked in the District Attorney’s office. "I always worked hard because I wanted to be the girl with the nice clothes," she says.

Gussie and her husband lived in a condo at Bakers Bay for 45 years. While there, Gussie was in charge of the travel club and acted in the community theatrical productions. She and her husband loved to travel and remembers fondly when her son treated them to a two-week excursion in Europe for their 25th anniversary, where they made stops in London, Paris and Amsterdam.

Family has always been important to Gussie, who says that "taking care of my son Ray was one of the nicest things that ever happened to me." Unfortunately, Gussie's husband had many health issues towards the latter part of his life, and Gussie loyally and lovingly cared for him until he passed.

Happy Birthday, Gussie! Thank you for sharing your joyful spirit, sharp wit, extensive life experience and wonderful insights with us.

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June 22, 2020

Up Close with Resident

Bernice Martin

Always cheerful, easygoing and laughing, Bernice enjoys socializing, and sharing a good joke. We truly enjoy having Bernice as part of our family and are delighted to share her fascinating life story.

Bernice Elaine Martin (affectionately known as ‘Niecy’ to her family, and ‘Bern’ or ‘Bernie’ to her friends) was born Bernice Elaine Muse on December 5, 1934 in Hightstown, NJ, a small town just outside of Princeton.

The youngest daughter of John and Effironda Muse’s seven children, Bernice suffered from rickets in her legs. This disorder limited her movement and mobility and as a result she couldn’t run or play like other children. However, with dedicated daily leg massages using liniments made by her mother and sitting in front of a warm oven, she was able to overcome this affliction and help her siblings on local farms, picking fruit to support the family income.

Bernice was an extremely social and active student in school clubs and sports. After graduating from Hightstown High School, she went to live with her Aunt Gertrude in Philadelphia and attend Berean Institute of Business where she completed a two-year degree in Business Administration. Following her graduation from Berean, Bernice took the Government Test and started working for the Navy at the Aviation Supply Office (ASO) in Northeast Philadelphia. Her first assignment was working at Fort Dix Military Base as an Office Assistant.
During her stay at Fort Dix, she met her first husband, Richard Martin, who also worked for the government, and married him on May 6th, 1961. The couple decided to make Philadelphia their home to raise their daughter, Alicia (also known as Lisa) who was born in July 1963. Ultimately, however, changes with their careers put a difficult strain on their marriage and they eventually divorced in 1965.

Hardworking and determined, Bernice continued to work full-time at the Aviation Supply Office (ASO) and at times held part-time jobs to help supplement her income and care for Alicia as a single mother. She worked as a waitress at Hot Shoppes Restaurant and at Parkview Hospital as a clerical assistant in the evenings, continuing to advance within the ASO organization. She took on extra training classes and traveled to boost her rank and salary, eventually becoming Head Buyer/Purchaser of Navy planes and jets.

When she wasn’t working, Bernice loved spending time with her daughter doing mother-daughter activities. She also enjoyed being with friends, dancing and having parties, playing pinochle, and bowling. An excellent cook and baker, family and friends always requested her smothered cabbage, mac-n-cheese, and many different kinds of cakes.

Bernice eventually retired from ASO in 1990 after 38 years of service, and focused on helping to raise her two grandsons, Jamie and Julian. In 1996 she decided to go back to work part-time at Wendy’s Restaurant for 10 years. While she never remarried, Bernice had a loving, long-term relationship with her boyfriend, Marshall Rucker, for 32 years until his passing in 2002. During their time together they traveled to many places including the islands of Hawaii, California, and Las Vegas.

In her leisure time, Bernice enjoys watching movies (especially Westerns), dancing and listening to jazz, gospel, and R&B music. She loves spending time with her family and grandchildren, including her great-grandson Samuel. Her only pet was a cat named Midnight whom she adored and looked after for 18 years.

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June 22, 2020

Meet our rehab department

Beverly Palucis, PT & Shira Shifrin, OT

A dynamic duo, Beverly and Shira both work full-time for St. Mary Home Care – part of the Trinity Health System. Beverly graduated from Temple University with a master’s degree in Physical Therapy and has over 20 years of experience in various healthcare settings including acute care, inpatient and outpatient rehab, and more than 15 years of experience as a home care physical therapist. Shira graduated from Stockton University with a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy and has spent over 10 years working in various healthcare departments, her favorite being home care.

Beverly enjoys helping patients regain their independence and maximize their ability to function at their best. “I have been working with residents at Oakwood for several years and have developed a close bond with many of the residents, both as a professional helping to rehabilitate those in need and as just a familiar friendly face,” comments Beverly. She appreciates Oakwood’s team-approach to patient care and enjoys working alongside our dedicated and compassionate staff to help our residents thrive and adapt to their home at Oakwood.

Shira loves working with patients in their home environment, helping them regain their strength so they can age in place. After working in Oakwood for the last eight years as a member of the therapy team, the community feels like home to her. “I always enjoy coming to Oakwood, working alongside the staff and collaborating with them to ensure the residents reach their utmost potential,” says Shira.“

“There is nothing more satisfying than working with the residents that we have come to know so well and helping them regain their strength, balance and endurance, to ensure that they can resume and enjoy all their regular daily activities.”

-Shira Shifrin, OT

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November 27, 2019

Employee of

The Quarter

It is our great pleasure to name Alma Halstead as our Employee of the Quarter!

As a valued Activity Assistant at Oakwood Residence for two years,
Alma is an extremely kind, lively and outgoing member of our team.
She has endeared herself to our residents by always going out of
her way to help others. She enjoys spending time with our residents,
as well as facilitating activities with them. Thank you, Alma, for
everything you do for our community!

November 27, 2019

Up close & personal with

Joseph Schlosser

Joe is one of the younger residents at Oakwood Residence. His rehab journey began when he was admitted to the hospital, immobile after being struck by a car as a pedestrian. He suffered eight fractures as a result of the accident. Joe has been one of our residents since July 2019, when he transferred here from a rehabilitation center. At Oakwood, Joe underwent additional physical therapy to learn how to walk again.

A regular participant in the community’s activities, Joe remarks that the entire Oakwood staff is incredible, including his therapists. “I got most of my physical therapy and the best of it here at Oakwood, and I am now walking without a cane! This is my biggest accomplishment, especially since the surgeon called my wife after my surgery and told her I may never walk again,” he says. “Oakwood’s location is particularly convenient for me, with its proximity to my family, and where I grew up. It’s right in the middle of everything.”

Born in January 1954 in Northeast Philadelphia,
Joseph attended Temple University for four years, earning a dual degree in Marketing and Insurance/ Risk. He got his start in the business world at Chubb Insurance Group, became an executive at Reliance, and was an insurance underwriter for almost twenty-five years. Upon leaving the insurance industry, Joe opened several franchises, including the well-known Supercuts.

An avid traveller for many years, Joe spent time in England, France, Australia, Germany and every major U.S. city on business. Joe loves going on cruises and during his leisure time he has visited Hawaii, Bermuda, Barbados, Alaska, and many of the major Caribbean islands.

Most memorably, Joe was once waiting for a client in a hotel lobby in Paris when a gentleman sat beside him with golf clubs. A fellow golfing fan, Joe noticed something else about the man – he looked a lot like rock star Alice Cooper (Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famer). When he found out that it was the real Alice Cooper, they had a pleasant 45-minute conversation as Alice waited for his ride and Joe waited for his client, both of whom showed up late!

While Joe has had other similar experiences during his travels, he loves his family and has been married to his wife Debbie for thirty-five years. They have two sons, Drew and Derek, who all still live in Bucks County, just a short car ride from Oakwood. Joe delights most in babysitting his beloved three-year-old grandson, whom he is extremely proud of. He enjoys spending as much time as possible with him.

We’re so happy to have you with us, Joe!

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July 11, 2019

Meet our Director of Nursing

Debbie St. Peter

A critical member of our team, Debbie St. Peter has been at Oakwood Residence since November of 2011 but involved in geriatric care for over 36 years. A native to northeastern Philadelphia, Debbie began her career as a CNA, then went to nursing school. “I enjoy working with geriatric patients. It’s been very rewarding,” she says. “I’ve done it my whole life.”
Debbie’s philosophy of care is based on the principle of respect, and everyone she interacts with is treated with kindness and dignity. She loves being able to chat daily with Oakwood residents about their careers and lives.

And it’s not just Debbie who loves the Oakwood Residence family. She is a proud mother of four children and eight grandchildren who feel that Oakwood’s residents are like family and visit often. Debbie’s passion for healthcare has influenced her children who have followed in her footsteps, including her son who is an RN and a visiting nurse here at Oakwood.
In her spare time, Debbie enjoys swimming, gardening, and reading, and loves to bond over her shared interests with the residents at Oakwood. Be sure to say hello to Debbie the next time you see her!

June 19, 2019

Up close with Resident

Dolores Kimmel

A lifelong native to Philadelphia, Dolores Kimmel, affectionately known to all as Dee, has led a full and busy life as an accomplished ballerina, dance teacher, figure skater, and black belt in karate. Over the years she has built a rewarding legacy as an artist, wife and mother.

Coming from a long line of prima ballerinas and pianists, a love of performing arts runs in Dee’s family. From the age of three, she began taking ballet lessons and went on to become a professional ballerina at 13 where she performed with the Pennsylvania Ballet Company and was accepted into the Philadelphia Civic Opera Company. Her dreams of being a ballet dancer eventually took her to New York where she studied with Antony Tudor, the famed ballet master of the Ballet Company of NY.

By the age of 18, Dee was holding down three jobs, working part-time in fashion, teaching dance, and then rehearsing with the opera company in the evenings. Passionate about helping women and children, she initiated child abuse prevention efforts, and gave recitals for the Germantown Women’s Club.

After years of performing in a wide variety of NY shows and musicals, Dee transitioned back to Philly, where she opened her own dance studio. The studio was a huge success with 300 students after the first three years.

During her last year of teaching dance, Dee met her husband Murray, a urologist who had been in the Berry Plan, a Vietnam War-era program that allowed physicians to defer obligatory military service until they had completed medical school and residency training. The two married in 1956 and had four sons. They eventually settled in the Wyncote area where Murray completed his urology residency at Jefferson Hospital. Dee would later join her husband as his office assistant at his practice by Eakins Oval, right across from the Philadelphia Art Museum, where they worked side by side for 30 years until they retired.

Life as a busy mom never slowed Dee down. While her kids grew, they started to develop an interest and hobby in ice skating, and in her early 40s, Dee decided to join them. As a dancer she found figure skating came naturally and although she was encouraged to compete, she declined – choosing to practice simply out of a love for the sport. After a back injury forced Dee off the ice, she studied karate, eventually earning a black belt which she proudly keeps with her here at Oakwood Residence.

Eventually, Dee and her husband experienced some health issues and found that moving to a senior living community benefited them both. Sadly, her husband passed away five and a half years ago, however his memory lives on through their children who are accomplished doctors, a veterinarian and lawyer. Their eldest son, Dr. Brian Kimmel, is the Medical Director here at Oakwood Residence and makes sure to check up on his mom regularly.

Although she now gets around mostly in a wheelchair and walker, Dee is just as vibrant and passionate as ever. Take a moment to speak with Dee and you’ll find that she has much to share. We love her incredible spirit and are delighted that she’s made Oakwood Residence her home.

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March 4, 2019

Up close with Resident

John F. Codori

The youngest of six children born to Dr. and Mrs. Laurence M. Codori, John was reared in Philadelphia in an area known as “Swampoodle” and was educated in the Catholic School system. He attended grade school at St. Columba’s and graduated from Roman Catholic Boys High School in 1950, where he was a member of the Track Team and ran Cross Country. After graduation, he worked at the Nabisco Company for two years and then General Motors for 43 years. He was employed in the processing and packaging department and was responsible for assembling automotive part orders for shipment.

Although John is a life-long bachelor, he is proud to have 13 nieces and nephews, 20 great nieces and nephews, and 13 great-great nieces and nephews.

At a young age John developed a love of all sports, especially Philadelphia baseball. The old Connie Mack Stadium was only four blocks from his home. He was so engrossed with the Phillies that in eighth grade he was caught making Box Scores Cards during class. The nun said to John: “If you had been born closer to the Academy of Music rather than the ball park you might be a musical virtuoso.” (She had him make 10 more score cards for the convent.) John is a 3rd Degree Knight of Columbus, Holt Family Council, in King of Prussia, and for many years attended retreats with The Men of Malvern.

John’s hobbies include reading books, the National Geographic, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. He keeps up with regional college football – especially Villanova, maintains scrapbooks of all Philadelphia sports teams, and enjoys watching sports on TV. Wednesday nights are dedicated to playing Black Jack, and John is an eager participant in all Oakwood monthly outings and other group activities.

The Codori family history is closely intertwined with some key events in American history. John is a direct descendant of Nicholas Codori, who emigrated from France in 1830 along with his two brothers Joseph and Anthony. After living in Baltimore, the brothers moved to Gettysburg, PA where they prospered buying land and establishing businesses. In July of 1863, the Battle at Gettysburg—a pivotal point in the Civil War—was fought. The Codori Farm was in the direct path of Pickett’s Charge, the deadliest engagement of the battle, and the Codori House was used as a prison for days after the battle.

Today the Codori name is proudly displayed on businesses and monuments throughout Gettysburg. Several Codori buildings are in the Historic Register including Anthony Codori’s home, now a Bed and Breakfast, and St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church. The land for the church was donated by Nicholas, and the money to build the church was provided by Joseph. The annual Codori family reunion brings together descendants from across the country.

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November 15, 2018

Who Killed The Butler?

A Murder Mystery Whodunit

Our residents and staff recently enjoyed an unforgettable and thrilling afternoon of mystery, intrigue, and murder! In the spirit of October, which is designated as “Mystery Month”, we staged a Murder Mystery whodunit with both staff and residents acting out their parts as suspects and victim.

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November 15, 2018

A Peek Into The Past

“Snapshot of My Life” Contest

Oakwood residents and staff took a trip down memory lane, with our photo display featuring our residents in their younger years. Whoever matched the most faces with the correct names walked away with a Dunkin Donuts or Wit Or Witout Philly Cheesesteaks gift card!

The winners:
Victoria Allen, Med. Tech-Nursing Assistant; Any Cherian, Nursing Assistant; Falisha Tyson Brooks, Nursing Assistant; and Ruth Thomas, Residence Housekeeping.

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October 19, 2018

Up Close & Personal With

Michael Foley

Michael Foley transferred to our community after recuperating next door at Oakwood Healthcare. Easygoing and likeable, Mike exudes an especially positive and upbeat spirit that draws people close to him.

Born and bred in Philadelphia, Mike knows the area neighborhoods like the back of his hand. In fact, as a postman for the Bustleton Post Office for 32 years, his mail route included the Oakwood Residence address at 2109 Red Lion Road. Prior to his long stint as a mail carrier, he was employed as a drug purchaser for the Frankford Hospital pharmacy.

18 years old by the Vietnam War draft call-up, his draft lottery number was #5! After taking the requisite blood tests, Mike received a life-changing call. The lab results had shown that his blood sugar level was dangerously high, and the doctor wanted to know why he had even considered joining the army. Mike, who had no inkling of his diabetic condition, received a medical exemption, enabling him to seek the medical attention necessary to effectively manage his health.

A devoted dad to his daughter Kellie, Mike was always there to hold her hand during her years growing up. He helped her hone her softball techniques and was an avid spectator cheering her on at every game. He volunteered as the coach of the swim team at Christ School – the school she attended, and when she was 10 years old, Kellie and her father jogged in the 5k Race for Frankford Hospital. The duo practiced running nightly for weeks prior to that event. Today Kellie lives in Bucks County with her 2 sons, ages 10 and 5. When she brings the kids to visit her dad at Oakwood, you can see Mike’s eyes light up. They enjoy talking sports – a common love that bridges the generations. Whether its baseball, basketball or football, these men can go at it for hours!

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July 31, 2018

Meet Our Psychologist

Dr. Whaley

To address the psycho-social needs of our seniors, our medical staff includes Dr. Darren Whaley, a clinical psychologist prominent in the geriatric population. He meets weekly with residents struggling with emotional issues such as anxiety or depression, providing client-centered supportive therapy to help each individual rise above his or her challenges.

Always interested in the human condition, Dr. Whaley started out as a criminal justice major. Upon taking some classes in psychology he realized that he was strongly drawn to actually providing treatment. After pursuing a masters in science and experimental psychology at University of Louisiana-Monroe, he moved to the East Coast to complete his doctorate in clinical psychology at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Dr. Whaley resides in Chester County, PA with his family. He is an avid sportsman and delights in his beautiful children – a 7-year old boy and 22-month old girl.

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June 28, 2018

Up Close & Personal With

Betty Milstein

Oakwood Residence is home to many fascinating personalities living rich, vibrant lives. Our community attracts a colorful group of seniors and we make it a point to get to know their background and stories.

We are delighted to give you a glimpse into the life of Betty Milstein – singer, actress and poet extraordinaire.

A Philadelphia native, born and bred, Betty moved in this past November from the Doral Condos just a few of blocks away. Always well-coiffed and the life of every party, the mellifluous lilt in her voice hints to her singing career on the radio decades ago prior to her marriage to Bernard Milstein. She and Bernie met through her close friendship with his older sister. The two kept up a steady correspondence, with love letters flitting back and forth across the ocean, after Bernie was shipped out to the World War II theater.

When a serious injury landed Bernie back in the states in a hospital near the Atlantic City Boardwalk, Betty trekked out to visit him. Doctors were ready to amputate his leg, but penicillin – the new miracle drug of the time – saved the day and his leg.

After Bernie was honorably discharged with a Purple Heart, the couple married and had a beautiful life together. Betty stayed home to raise their two daughters and filled the house with music. Her daughter Meryl has distinct memories of her mom singing while washing dishes and tapping her feet to the beat.

“My father had a beautiful voice as well, and we all loved to sing. We were a singing family like the Von Trapp Family Singers.” Employed at Milstein (no relation) Floor Covering, Mr. Milstein worked hard to care for his wife, who he lovingly called ”my party girl”. In their middle age, the couple moved to the Doral where they were surrounded by relatives and friends.

“My sister and I have a special events production company. In the past when we staged murder mysteries at different venues, our mom played Fifi the maid and dad was the butler. They were a real hoot!” recalls Meryl.

After her husband’s passing a few years ago, Betty kept herself busy cooking and baking, and discovered a new outlet: writing poetry. Every special occasion – whether a birthday or an anniversary – was graced with her prose. In fact, her poems were featured in the Doral Newsletter and we’re pleased to share one of her Valentine poems here.

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April 29, 2018

Meet Our Podiatrist

Dr. Fanelly

In honor of National Foot Health Awareness Month in April, we are proud to feature our caring Podiatrist, Dr. John M. Fanelly, DPM. Cherished by our residents for his amazing bedside manner and sense of humor, Dr. Fanelly has been providing truly excellent foot care to Oakwood seniors for over 15 years.

To prevent complications, Dr. Fanelly treats abrasions, wounds, foot, ankle and heel pain, as well as trauma and ingrown nails. He writes prescriptions to treat infections and orders x-rays when necessary. Visiting regularly to take care of corns and calluses, as well as painful mycotic nails (nails that are yellow and thick with fungus), Dr. Fanelly’s presence is always a welcome sight.

Tips for foot care from Dr. Fanelly: • Check your feet for any redness, broken skin or wounds. • Always wash and dry your feet thoroughly, especially in between the toes. • Wear properly fitting and comfortable shoes. A graduate from NY College of Podiatric Medicine, Dr. Fanelly completed his residency at James C. Giuffre Medical Center in Philadelphia.

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April 23, 2018

Up Close & Personal With

Lenny Saulevics

Lenny, a beloved resident at Oakwood since September 2016, was born in the Baltic State of Latvia in 1945. He arrived in America at the age of 8 and settled in a farm in North Carolina with his parents. The small family later moved to Pennsylvania where his father worked for Bell Telephone.

Lenny takes enormous pride in the home he, himself, built for his family – from foundation to roof. With no formal education as an engineer, and no assistance whatsoever from contractors, that home is a source of cherished memories for Lenny’s children.
Lenny married Darlene in the early seventies and raised a family together with her that included Judy, a child from Lenny’s first marriage, Brian and his sister Tracy.

His son Brian lovingly describes Lenny as a great dad who spent time with his children – from working in the garage to fishing, and as a stern yet loving father who raised him to be a good person and taught him what it means to be a man.

An avid traveler with a penchant for western movies and a declared fan of Clint Eastwood, Lenny is happiest in the company of his children. Having arrived at the end of WWII and succeeding to build a beautiful family and home in this country, Lenny embodies the American Dream.

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April 8, 2018

Up Close With Resident Artist

Inge April

The Positive Energy of Inge
Ingeborg, known to all as Inge, was born in Wuerzburg, Germany and came to the United States in 1950.

She began painting on silk at the young age of sixty and is now eighty-seven years young, and a resident at Oakwood. Her room is awash in color with her magnificent paintings adorning the walls.

Inge is most happy when she is painting on silk. Her silk paintings are energetic and expressionistic. She swirls and layers her brushstrokes of paint creating colorful silk compositions. A recurring main theme for her work is ‘positive energy’ and ‘world peace for all’.

Most of her artwork is framed to hang on the wall or to be displayed on easels. She takes pride in creating wearable artwork as well – such as her various sized scarves, ties and pins. Inge was an original member of Art First Gallery in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She had her studio there and was an annual featured artist for several years.

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December 22, 2017

Nicole Simmons, CNA, CMT

Nicole, known as Nikky, has been an integral part of our team for 17 years. Here’s her story:

Upon accepting my position at Oakwood Residence, I was given the task of caring for the Administrator’s mother-in-law. I was a recent graduate – and I was scared! The responsibility was daunting but I put my all into it. My duties today include taking care of all the residents of Oakwood by providing assistance in taking medication and performing treatments for various skin and wound conditions.

After 17 years here, I can honestly say that working at Oakwood is THE BEST. Because we are in direct contact with people day in and day out, no two days are the same, and we get to experience the full spectrum of emotions along with our residents:

We are reassuring and compassionate when they are in pain, we reminisce with them to shift their focus from their condition, we laugh with them, and they in return reward us with the knowledge that what we do and how we do it makes a difference – there is no better job!

I would not hesitate to recommend Oakwood to my own family because for close to two decades I have seen firsthand that the care is excellent – and that the staff truly cares.

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August 24, 2017

Meet Our Medical Director:

Dr. Brian Kimmel

Working closely with Deborah St. Peter, our dedicated Director of Nursing, Dr. Kimmel meets on a monthly basis with every resident: giving each his undivided attention, assessing the progression of their medical needs, and making the necessary adjustments in treatment and medication.

In practice for more than 30 years, Dr. Kimmel specializes in Family Medicine and Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine and is affiliated with numerous hospitals in the area.

August 20, 2017

Up Close & Personal With

Janet Simaitis!

Janet Simaitis joined our family of residents this past March and is adored by all who come into her orbit. A dedicated employee of the City of Philadelphia for 20 years, she worked as a Clerk Typist II in the Department of Human Services until her retirement at age 60. She has always been devoted to her family which included her parents, her siblings and many nieces and nephews. Never one to miss a milestone or important occasion, Janet always sends a card for every birthday, anniversary and holiday to every family member, with a small gift enclosed.