Program helps keep seniors in their homes longer

Work begins in March on renovations to a downtown Kalamazoo building that will house a program that will create another option for seniors who want to stay in their homes.

CentraCare is redeveloping a 16,000-square-foot facility at 445 West Michigan Avenue with tentative plans to open it in January 2013. It will be home to a Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).

Seniors benefit from 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.

The program is designed to offer a senior day care that participants attend at least two to three times a week. This offers staff an opportunity to get a close-up observation of how the elders are doing physically and mentally and quickly deal with situations that arise. PACE provides medical care and social services for those eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

In addition to the day care, nursing and other services can be provided in the seniors’ homes.

CentraCare ultimately expects to hire 65 to 70 employees to staff the Kalamazoo site which will have the capacity to serve 225 PACE participants. The program will start out with about 25 employees and the staff will grow as the number of people using it goes up.

The Kalamazoo PACE program will be operated by CentraCare, Inc., a nonprofit community corporation that has successfully managed a PACE program in Battle Creek since 2009. The program was started in Battle Creek with the intention of branching out into Kalamazoo, Auton says. In Battle Creek, the program has been found to reduce the length of hospital stay for PACE participants down to 3.8 days compared to the state average of 4.6 days for the Medicare and Medicaid population. And the 30 day hospital readmission rate for PACE participants is 8.3 percent compared to 22 percent.

Assistance also is available for caregivers.

"It’s a one stop shop," Auton says.

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave
Source: Rod Auton, CentraCare