PACE Vermont Health Care Announces New Partnership

April 6, 2010  
Filed under Health & Wellness

Support will allow expansion of programs

PACE Vermont Inc. has announced a new partnership with Volunteers of America and On Lok to operate PACE programs in Colchester and Rutland. This groundbreaking partnership provides a wealth of resources and expertise that will allow PACE programs in the state to grow and thrive into the future. This support will be provided directly to the current PACE Vermont organization.

Vermont has the second oldest population in the country. As a result, Vermonters face a daunting challenge to ensure the most effective use of limited health care dollars and to improve the health of the oldest citizens. PACE Vermont has shown promising results in both areas. For example, a recent study shows significant reductions in hospital admissions, emergency room visits, and number of days in the hospital among PACE enrollees. PACE has a unique payment structure that allows the State and Federal government to predict what the cost of healthcare will be for PACE enrollees. It also benefits enrollees by limiting the total possible cost, eliminating claims forms, and eliminating out-of-pocket expenses for health services.

As aging Baby Boomers reach retirement, the challenge of providing health care to seniors is only going to increase. In fact, in 20 years the number of Vermonters 65 and older is expected to double – one in three Vermonters will be 65 or older. And the number of older people with disabilities is estimated to grow 45 percent in the next ten years.

“These are staggering figures,” said Susan Watson, Executive Director of PACE Vermont. “Clearly, we must look at new and innovative ways to address the health issues and costs facing our seniors and their families. This is especially true for the large number of seniors in Vermont who are living on low and fixed incomes.”
Watson added, “PACE is a successful model that is now in 31 states across the country. This unique and popular program provides a comprehensive range of care for seniors. PACE provides care in the home, transportation to appointments, and also offers a number of health services in one building. Our Centers have a physician’s office, physical therapy gym, and adult day program. As a result of this all-encompassing care, trips to the hospital are reduced and they are shorter, outcomes are better and costs are reduced by identifying and addressing health issues before they become serious.”

The Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) model is centered on the belief that seniors with chronic care needs should be served in their home communities whenever possible. PACE serves people age 55 or older who are certified by the state to need nursing home care, are able to live safely in the community at the time of enrollment, and live in a PACE service area. If a PACE enrollee subsequently needs nursing home care, the PACE program pays for it and continues to coordinate the enrollee’s care.

Often, the need for comprehensive care can arise at a moment’s notice. At the same time, the stress from promises made to keep parents at home can be overwhelming. “We gave up our bedroom and added a bathroom for dad,” said Jayne Airoldi. “We also brought in additional care to help with his daily needs and medical care. Before PACE, trips to the doctor with my father meant 80 miles of driving and hours away from the office. Before, I had hardly used a sick day in my life. Now I have used them all. I was working, coming home to take care of my parents – trying to keep all of the balls in the air. It is a miracle that I still have a job. Now, PACE manages all of that – even the transportation and his medications are provided for us.”

As time progresses, it gets increasingly difficult for the caregivers as the care can become all encompassing. That often leads to isolation for the caregivers and their loved one(s). “My husband was so outgoing and fun…and he got so quiet and unresponsive,” said Nancy Buffum, “When he started going to PACE, I noticed an incredible change. I can’t tell you what a difference it made…he is happy! And I am happy. And, most important, I know that he is safe and getting the care he needs.”

There are some questions that come up as the decision about care and choosing PACE are considered. Probably the most frequent is whether the person is willing to receive care from the PACE doctor. According to both caregivers and the clients, this is soon overcome by the new relationship developed with the PACE Vermont staff. PACE will also keep the person’s primary care doctor involved, and the PACE enrollee can continue to have office visits.

”PACE is new in rural settings and we are pioneers here in Vermont,” Watson says. “The nation is watching us closely. We know we have a great program that is working well for the families we are serving. Our challenge now is letting all Vermonters know that we are here to support families in their effort to help elders remain in their homes and communities.”

To learn more, contact Naomi Galimidi at (802) 655-6700 or visit www.pacevt.org.

 

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