PACE program for elderly opens in Kalamazoo

Participants are now being assessed for and enrolled in the newest program in Kalamazoo designed to help seniors stay in their homes as long as possible.
Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), operated by CentraCare, has finished renovations on a 16,000-square-foot facility at 445 West Michigan Avenue and its staff is meeting with seniors referred to them. 
Though the goal of the program is to keep seniors out of nursing homes whenever possible, what is unique about the PACE program is not only the level of care it provides, but that seniors can be part of the program as the level of their need for care increases. 
Those in the program typically would be those assessed as ready to be admitted to a nursing home and many have complex health situations.
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.
The program is designed to care for up to 225 people and those are being added at a rate of approximately 10 a month. When at peak, a staff of 65 to 70 people will see to the various medical and other needs of participating seniors. Right now, the program employs 10 in Kalamazoo.
For socialization and to better observe participants'  physical and mental health, participants can be part of the Day Health Care program one to five times a week. The program comes up with plans for physical therapy, to meet dietary requirements, and addresses other needs.
The home also is assessed and recommendations made to keep it safe. 
The Kalamazoo PACE program is operated by CentraCare, Inc., a nonprofit community corporation that has successfully managed a PACE program in Battle Creek since 2009. Some employees work in both locations.
"Our mission is to keep as many people as independent as they can be in the least restrictive environment that they can be in, receiving complete health care," says Sarah Vollink, of CentraCare. 
Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Sarah Vollink, CentraCare

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