PANAMA CITY BEACH — For 83-year-old Jimmy Rhea, there’s a sense of security that comes with living in a retirement home in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He and his wife of 63 years, Josephine, 84, were among the first wave of seniors to move into The Blake at Panama City Beach, an assisted-living facility that opened Monday near the intersection of Panama City Beach Parkway and Lyndell Lane.
“It relieves some tensions and it’s convenient,” Jimmy said. “We’re glad to be here and we’re looking forward to the food.”
“(There are) so many things that you can do here and it’s really amazing to me,” Josephine added. “More people ought to come.”
The couple said it’s their first time living in a senior community.
While Jimmy said he was a bit nervous at first to make the change, Josephine said she never had any hesitations. Both said they were impressed with the facility and excited to begin the next chapter of their lives.
According to Lindsey Duncan, director of sales for the Blake PCB, the facility boasts 124 apartments, with 76 for assisted living and 48 for “memory care” residents, or those who have advanced stages of Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.
Duncan said that as of Tuesday, more than a dozen residents had moved in, with about half in each branch of the center.
She said that what sets the facility apart from similar ones is that medicine is administered to residents only by nurses.
“In a lot of other communities, they’ll have a med tech and from what I’ve gathered (that’s) a certification kind of (like a certified nursing assistant),” Duncan said. “Having a nurse to lay eyes on residents is great as far as the reduction of medication errors.”
She, along with Aimee Swan, a registered nurse and the vice president of wellness and new development for Blake Senior Living, said that it feels great to finally welcome residents after more than a year of construction.
The facility features amenities such as a coffee bar, outdoor courtyard, billiards room, chapel, salon, spa and gym.
Swan added that The Blake currently has eight locations across Florida, Mississippi, Virginia, Tennessee and Louisiana. A ninth location is set to open in Miramar Beach in a couple weeks.
“It’s so exciting,” she said of how it feels to open The Blake PCB. “I think the best part for me is … seeing the excitement and finally letting the families come experience the joy (of) when they walk through that door and see their new, beautiful home and all the services we have.”
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