The Oaks Changes Colors

Special to The Business Times

Family Health West in Fruita is pleased to announce  that The Oaks Assisted Living Facility will be the recipient of the upcoming 23rd Annual Red Baron Ball, April 21st at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Grand Junction.    With a capacity of 100 residents, The Oaks may have been the very first large Medicaid assisted living facility in the state of Colorado.  “We were certainly the largest on the Western Slope when we opened in October of 1990,” said Michele Snider, Oaks Director, “Family Health West had opened The Willows Assisted Living facility and through the interest it generated, we realized that there was a significant need for an assisted living to serve seniors who were living on no more than their social security incomes.” 

“It’s quite a story,” said Family Health West Hospital President and CEO, Dennis Ficklin, “After the “bust” in the late eighties, our former CEO Carroll Rushold became aware (through a contact at Union Oil) that their vacant “man camp units” could be purchased for a song!  FHW applied for a significant grant and were awarded enough to build an assisted living facility.  Blake Chambliss, a Denver architect originally from Grand Junction, was working to create affordable senior living spaces at the time.  He was hired and created a design to incorporate the modular units by adding a full sized kitchen and community dining room, office space, and large living room areas.”

“The result was and is The Oaks,” adds Michele, “Each resident has his or her own private room, which includes a private bathroom and shower. The size of the facility is deceptive.  Because it is arranged in three distinct wings, residents and guests still get the feeling of being in a small community.

When the current director, Michele Snider, first started working at The Oaks, she recognized there was something different about it.  Finally it dawned on her, “It’s country charm.”  The residents AND staff at The Oaks are like family.  They really look out for and love each other.  It’s truly an extension of the Fruita community and culture.  “We are one of the few places where the doctors, psychologists, therapists, pharmacists, and lab techs still make house calls,” Michele smiles, “I recall when Dr. Quarnberg himself came out to adjust a resident’s glasses. 

Dr. Rimmey had an arrangement where every other visit she would come to The Oaks, then the patient would come to her.  Dr. Holmes and Dr. Hughes have both come by to sign orders, and Dr. Foley has even come by with her children! (which the resident’s love)”

The Oaks is a hidden gem in the heart of Fruita.  They assist seniors and disabled adults to rediscover their purpose and regain their passion for life.  Their services and staff are exceptional and recently received zero deficiencies on a state survey as well as Mesa County’s Blue Ribbon Award for their dietary department.

Having said all of this, The Oaks is currently showing its age.  “I’m sure the wood paneling and orange laminate around the sinks were “modern” and fresh in the seventies when it was first used”, Michele said.   “My dream is to have a facility that reflects the beauty of the love and care that each resident receives in this community.  A dilapidated roof and aging décor are hard to see past.”

The Oaks is getting a makeover.  The proceeds of the Red Baron Ball will help renovate The Oaks to enhance the lives of the residents and the staff who work there.  For more information on The Oaks, the Red Baron Ball, or how you can help at The Oaks, please call 858- 2104, or visit,