PACE of Southwest Michigan celebrates National PACE Month

ST. JOSEPH — September is National PACE Month, celebrating the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.

The innovative model of care allows seniors with long-term care needs to remain living in their community for as long as possible, as independently as possible. More than 95 percent of PACE participants live outside of a nursing home.

“This year National PACE Month is a reminder of the compassion and resilience of the team at PACE of Southwest Michigan as they work under very difficult circumstances to serve seniors in our community,” said Jim Schlaman, CEO.

The value of the PACE model of care has been reinforced by the experience of PACE participants nationally during the pandemic, officials said. The incidence of PACE participants contracting or dying from COVID-19 was one-third the rate of nursing home residents.

Around the country, there are 140 PACE organizations in 30 states serving more than 55,000 enrollees. PACE of Southwest Michigan has been open since 2012 and currently serves 227 participants and their families.

The year 2021 also marks the 50th anniversary of On Lok, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco that developed the PACE model of care. Federal legislation in 1997 made PACE a permanent part of the Medicare program and an option for state Medicaid programs.

The pandemic was disruptive and challenging for all Americans, but the PACE model of care demonstrated its value as a flexible system of care that can adapt to serve the needs of individual participants, said Connie Didonato, marketing and community outreach coordinator. As the country looks at long-term care in a new light and searches for nursing homes alternatives, PACE stands as a proven model that is more affordable, provides excellent care, and helps individuals achieve their highest quality of life.

“This year, we celebrate National PACE Month as we work to recover from the historic COVID-19 pandemic, which provides a unique perspective to celebrate the original development of the PACE model of care and envision a future where every American will have access to PACE,” said Shawn Bloom, president and CEO of the National PACE Association.

The eligibility criteria for PACE include being age 55 or over, qualifying for a nursing home level of care as defined by the state, living in a PACE service area, and being able to live safely in the community with the help of PACE services.

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