Program focused on coordination of health care and social service requirements helps people remain in their communities
QUEENSBURY, NY (September 10, 2020) – Hudson Headwaters Health Network is in the early stages of developing a PACE program as part of its continued commitment to serving the region’s growing older adult population.
The Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) is a community-based alternative to nursing home care for individuals ages 55 or older with multiple chronic health conditions but who can still live safely in the community. It is a comprehensive, coordinated health care model that provides all services traditionally covered through Medicare and Medicaid programs and encompasses preventive, primary, acute and long-term care services. There are currently 134 PACE programs throughout the country serving more than 53,000 participants.
Earlier this year, Hudson Headwaters conducted a feasibility study to examine its capacity for offering the services required, along with the potential benefit to the local community. Based on factors that included an understanding of community needs, proven expertise in serving a geriatric population, strong partnerships and familiarity with state and national requirements, the study indicated that Hudson Headwaters was in a strong position to develop a PACE program in the Glens Falls region.
The PACE model of care is centered on the belief that most people prefer to remain living in their community for as long as possible. Organizationally, Hudson Headwaters shares this belief. “Hudson Headwaters’ mission, to provide the best health care and access to that care for everyone in our communities, aligns perfectly with the PACE principles,” said Linda Spokane, vice president of population health management at Hudson Headwaters. “PACE offers a holistic, coordinated, cost-effective model of care that not only improves the overall health and well-being of participants but also of their families, caregivers and communities.”
PACE programs throughout the nation report positive outcomes for participants, who are clinically complex and sometimes difficult to reach by many health and social service programs. Each participant is closely and continually managed through comprehensive care coordination. Coordinating these health and social services through PACE programs lead to a reduction in emergency room visits and hospitalizations, while demonstrating an improvement in overall quality of life.
Participants in the Hudson Headwaters PACE program will receive their health care from a team of health professionals. This team continually assesses, coordinates and implements required services for each participant in the program. This includes administration of all Medicaid and Medicare benefits to include coverage for at-home skilled nursing care, doctor’s visits, personal care, physical and occupational therapy, meals, social day programs, prescriptions, specialty medical care, respite care to ease the strain on care givers, transportation and nursing home care if necessary.
One significant aspect of the PACE program is the establishment of a day center for program participants. The PACE center will offer space that can be used for the on-site health care services, activities, meals, opportunities for socialization, recreational therapies and other exercise programs offered by the Hudson Headwaters PACE program. Plans are underway for the day center to be located within the Glens Falls area.
According to Hudson Headwaters CEO Dr. Tucker Slingerland, as the PACE program becomes established it may be expanded into other population centers within the organization’s service area. “As with any new program that Hudson Headwaters implements, we always do so with the idea of eventual expansion in mind,” he said. “While we are just beginning to plan for our PACE program, we are developing that plan knowing that the concept, partnerships, workflow and program specifics can ultimately be replicated in other communities, as we determine patient needs and potential impacts within other communities.”
According to Spokane, there is still a great deal of work to be done. “We are excited that we have many strong community partners and relationships that will likely serve as the foundation of this program,” she said. “But we certainly expect that program planning, staff development, state and federal approvals and other important program aspects will take some time.”
Hudson Headwaters Health Network anticipates that the program will be fully developed and implemented in the Glens Falls region by late 2022.