CHARLOTTE – On a hot summer afternoon, PACE of the Southern Piedmont was a beehive of activity.
Outside, vans were lined up to take home PACE participants who were waiting inside the lobby after a day at their health and wellness center in Charlotte. Inside, other participants had just finished a worship service in one room, while others participated in social activities in an adjoining room.
Still, other participants were in the medical center seeing their primary care physician or in the rehab center working with specialists. Nearby, a kitchen worker was cleaning up after preparing lunch for participants.
PACE – A Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly – helps those eligible seniors remain independent and living in their own home. The day program has wheelchair-accessible vans that transport participants from their homes in Mecklenburg, Union, Stanly and Cabarrus counties to the day health and wellness center.
PACE is a not-for-profit, Medicare State option program providing preventive and long-term care for its participants.
PACE will celebrate its fifth anniversary with an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. July 14 at its location at 6133 The Plaza.
To be eligible for PACE’s services, a participant must meet the criteria of being 55 or older, be determined to need a nursing home level of care, be able to live in a community setting at the time of enrollment without jeopardizing health or safety, and live in the four-county area.
As a care coordinator of covered benefits, PACE will help participants to continue to live in their homes and communities. PACE works closely with participants to determine program eligibility and any out-of-pocket costs.
“The benefit of PACE is that we are your medical home,” CEO/Executive Director Renee Rizzuti said. “Our providers manage your care, whether you go to an approved specialist, you always come back here to your medical home at PACE to review your care plan.”
At PACE’s day health and wellness center, participants also interact with other participants, while having meals and participating in activities. Participants will also see their PACE primary care physicians when needed, have all of their medications provided and managed, participate in a variety of rehabilitation programs promoting strength and falls prevention, take part in a variety of activities promoting socialization, and interact over a well-balanced lunch.
To serve as a one-stop-shop model of care, many services are coordinated and provided onsite at the center, such as podiatry, dental, vision, behavioral health, lab work and wound care.
As a home and community-based program, PACE will coordinate and provide the necessary in-home support tailored to a participants’ needs to continually support both the participant and their family while promoting quality of life.
“We provide all primary care medical services,” Rizzuti said. “We are an out-patient medical clinic staffed with physicians, nurse practitioners, RN’s and medical office assistants to insure full coverage of primary medical services. These are routine primary care checkups. You can also call our medical team after hours.”
Providing transportation to the day program is one of the many draws of the program.
“PACE provides transportation for all of our members,” Rizzuti said. “Transportation isn’t just here to our PACE center for socialization, exercise and a nutritious meal, if they have a medical appointment here or a medical appointment in the community, they will be transported. Huge benefit.”
The variety of social activities, and field trips, are also popular features. Some participants come several days a month while others come five days a week. The center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Our whole purpose is to help seniors remain in their home safely and with support,” Rizzuti said. “We are basically a senior center.”