PACE program for seniors expands to Van Buren County

A service available to the elderly in Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, and St. Joseph now will be offered to those in Van Buren County.

Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly--PACE--is designed to help older adults stay out of the nursing home as long as is feasible. In a day care setting it offers comprehensive medical and social services for those who are eligible for Medicare and Medicade benefits. In-home services also are offered.

Many of those who participate in the program typically see their stay in the home extended by four to six years beyond those not in such a program. Due to the nature of the health of those admitted to the program, however, some must go to nursing homes sooner than that -- about 8 percent of participants are ultimately referred to nursing homes.

Through PACE, participants receive services provided by staff in 12 different disciplines. Medical specialists such as those in audiology, dentistry, optometry, podiatry, and speech therapy are all provided at the center. Home health care and personal care also are part of the program as needed. Transportation to doctor's visits also can be arranged.

Likely candidates who could benefit from the PACE model of care include those who are having difficulty managing appointments, finances, medications and health conditions. Often, PACE participants have declining ability to perform duties such as meal preparation, housework, or transportation, and an increased need for assistance with bathing, dressing, and moving around their home. They often also experience an increase in falls and visits to the ER or urgent care.

PACE services currently are being offered by CentraCare in Kalamazoo at 445 W. Michigan Ave. and in St. Joseph at 2900 Lakeview Ave. Seniors in Van Buren county can receive care at these centers.

CentraCare, Inc., a non-profit community corporation has managed a PACE program in Battle Creek since 2009. It opened in Kalamazoo in March 2013. PACE of Southwest Michigan opened its doors in September of 2012 and is a community partnership between Lakeland Healthcare, Hospice at Home, and Area Agency on Aging.

Those with eastern Van Buren County zip codes have been approved for service in Kalamazoo. Those in western Van Buren County are approved to attend the PACE center in St. Joseph. Those living in Grand Junction (49056), Lawton (49065), Marcellus (49067) and Paw Paw (49079) are served by both.

"The idea behind sharing a few key zip codes is to provide a choice for people whose health care patterns naturally take them east or west. For instance, if all your doctors or family are in the St. Joseph/Benton Harbor area, you may choose PACE of SW Michigan. If your specialists are located in Kalamazoo, CentraCare may be your choice,” says Therese Saggau, Executive Director of PACE of SW Michigan. "The split zip codes also ensure appropriate drive times for each participant to attend the day center.”

For those in a PACE program the length of hospitals stays for acute care are significantly below the national average. And the 30-day hospital readmission rates for PACE participants is less than 5 percent compared to 22 percent for similar patients.

"We know from experience the PACE approach works. Nothing improves medical outcomes and quality of life for frail older adults wishing to remain in the community as well as PACE," says Saggau. "PACE of SW Michigan and CentraCare look forward to offering this unique model of care to Van Buren residents."

Source: PACE of Southwest Michigan