Published : Tuesday, September 17, 2019 | 7:29 AM
[Updated] Pacific PACE, a new program by WelBeHealth designed to give seniors and caregivers a greater sense of independence by putting all their needs under one roof, had a historic opening today in Pasadena.
The opening was attended by those including Sen. Anthony Portantino, Congresswoman Judy Chu and City Councilmember Tyron Hampton. Also on hand was Si France, MD, CEO of WelbeHealth and Sophia Guel-Valenzuela, Regional Vice President and Executive Director of Pacific PACE.
“This program was a model I studied in college,” said Guel-Valenzuela. “PACE is committed to giving frail seniors an alternative to nursing home treatment.”
By relieving the pressure put on caretakers in getting their elderly family members to various appointments and social engagements, the program puts all a seniors’ needs under one roof.
For Guel-Valenzuela, it’s a dream come true to launch the center.
“I am a Masters in Public Health and Business Administration, I studied this model in college and I believe this model keeps people living on their own terms,” she said. “The seniors are uplifted and their lives are forever changed when they come into our center.
“We have adult day centers,” she said. “We assess you for all the needs you may have. We bring you in two to three days a week, music therapy, socialization and our daycare center is part of the plan to promote independence at home. We also have beach volleyball, we have painting, arts and crafts, massage therapy, we have so much for our seniors and it’s coordinated by their capabilities.”
To be enrolled you have to be 55 and older and PACE counselors and staff assess to see if you potential participants qualify for the PACE program.
“We promote independence and we look for those who have challenges with daily living, dressing bathing eating and all of those things are taken into consideration,” Guel-Valenzuela said.
Telemedicine is a big part of the program but it’s the visits to the center twice or three times per week that help make the magic happen.
“We bring the specialists under one roof,” Guel-Valenzuela said. “We have podiatry, optometry, dental services on site so everything is on one site. Participants are enrolled in Medicare and Medical.”
WellBe Health opened the first PACE site in January 2019 in Stockton, Calif., and Pasadena Pacific PACE is second site, but Guel- said she hopes the program will grow accross the country.
Pacific PACE is a private company established two years ago by WelbeHealth and the company has 26 employees in Pasadena. It’s open to seniors who must first qualify and is offered on a need basis to those with Medicare or MediCal. It was first developed in the 1980s in California and has grown nationally. There are 134 PACE programs operating in 31 states as of last year.
“What makes PACE different is it’s a high-touch coordinated care plan,” Guel-Valenzuela said. “We assess the the senior and create a customized care plan. We’re all-inclusive and coordinate everything, medical care, prescription drugs, home care, daycare, transportation. With the PACE model we are both the insurer and the caretaker. We are the single point of contact and in that way we take the stress and complexity out of healthcare and we coordinate it for you and your mom.”
Also on hand at the grand opening was Ed Ternan, whose mother, Margie, is the first enrollee in the program. Ternan told the group assembled that he was relieved that a lot of challenges of getting his mother to multiple appointments and multiple locations would come to an end with the program.
“It’s committed to the participant,” Guel-Valenzuela said. “It’s not a cookie-cutter. We coordinate so we can meet the healthcare needs. Sen. Portantino has a track record and has always been a champion of bringing services to constituents. We are committed to relieving caregiver burnout.”
“We went to Sen. Portantino and he was on board right away,” Guel-Valenzuela said. “He’s a trailblazer for getting this program in the community. Judy Chu has always been, and we are honored to have the congresswomen here today.”
WelbeHealth established in 2016 to serve the most vulnerable seniors with compassion and to unlock their full potential.
The PACE model started in Chinatown because culturally Chinese people don’t place their seniors in nursing homes, Guel- said. “It has grown to address the needs of the community.
Hospital partners include Huntington Hospital, USC and Glendale Memorial and various staff are expected to be part of an advisory committee.
“We bring the specialists under one roof,” Guel-Valenzuela said. “We have podiatry, optometry, dental services on-site so everything is on one site. It gives everyone much more freedom.”
Pacific PACE is located at 50 Alessandro Place in Pasadena. For more, visit https://pacificpace.