PACE of Southwest Michigan celebrates National PACE Month, anniversary

ST. JOSEPH — PACE of Southwest Michigan, located in St. Joseph, is celebrating National PACE Month in September.

The National PACE Association has designated September as National PACE Month as an opportunity to raise awareness and celebrate the difference PACE makes in the lives of seniors enrolled in PACE, their families and their communities. Across the nation, PACE organizations care for 95 percent of enrollees in their homes rather than in a nursing home.

“We are proud to enter our eighth year serving older adults in Cass, Van Buren and Berrien counties,” said Therese Saggau, CEO of PACE of Southwest Michigan. “PACE continues to provide optimal care to our participants, supporting them and their families with a highly dedicated team of professionals. Even during the global health crisis, PACE has met the challenge and adapted quickly to meet the needs of those we serve and keep them safe in their homes.”

In order to enroll in PACE SWMI, a person must be age 55 or older, live in Cass, Van Buren or Berrien County, meet clinical eligibility requirements for nursing home level of care, and be able to live safely in the community with the support of PACE.

Around the country, PACE is a quickly growing care model that has been in operation for more than 30 years. A total of 134 organizations operate 264 PACE centers in 31 states. Currently, more than 51,000 individuals are enrolled in the program.

“Caring for older individuals with multiple health care needs has been particularly challenging during this pandemic,” said Shawn Bloom, NPA president and CEO. “To keep participants and staff as safe as possible, the PACE model of care has been adapted from bringing participants into the PACE Day Center for socialization and activities, to providing services in the home. The resilience of the model in the face of this pandemic has been inspiring.”

During the pandemic, PACE of Southwest Michigan has adapted the PACE model of care to increase the safety of participants and staff. They brought the care to the participants’ homes. Although the day center is still open for socialization, the number of participants who attend each day is limited, with strict protocols in place for the health and safety of participants and staff.

Since many participants are now spending more time at home, PACE staff has found new ways to engage with them. For instance, participants can join virtual meetings such as the popular bible studies. The activities coordinator and chaplain visit participants in their homes and make calls to participants daily. Projects are sent to the participants’ homes so they can still engage in some of the activities they enjoyed at the day center.

The clinic and the therapy department at the PACE Day Center have remained open to serve participants by appointment. PACE also uses telemedicine when appropriate.

“We miss seeing so many of our participants in person at the Day Center,” Saggau said. “We look forward to the day when we can welcome them all back to the day center safely. Our hope is to continue to reach more and more older adults in our community who would benefit from our unique model of coordinated care. Now more than ever, we need to connect with one another and provide support. Isolation is so difficult, especially for the elderly. Reach out to PACE to learn what we can provide for you and your family.”

For more information about PACE, call (269) 408-4350 or go to paceswmi.org.

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