By Lori Szepelak
WEST SPRINGFIELD – Dr. Rachel Broudy touts PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) as the “best model of care” for older adults and individuals over age 55 living with disabilities.
During a recent interview with Reminder Publications, Broudy, who serves as medical director of MercyLIFE, a PACE program, at Sisters of Providence Health System, and Joseph Larkin, BSN, RN, executive director, shared their expertise and enthusiasm about the new program encompassing 25,000-square-feet of beautifully designed space at 2112 Riverdale St.
“We offer an intimate setting where everyone knows your name,” said Broudy, who is board certified in internal medicine, hospice and palliative medicine, with a specialty in geriatric medicine.
Larkin echoed her sentiments.
“Our clinical team works with clients to learn their stories,” he said. “We also work with families because MercyLIFE can take away immense stress for caregivers.”
The Most Reverend Bishop Timothy McDonnell conducted a special blessing and dedication on Nov. 18 at MercyLIFE.
From the moment you walk into MercyLIFE, you are greeted by a welcoming staff, as well as a warm palette of colors from the walls to the furniture that complement the scenic view of the Connecticut River. MercyLIFE is located on the former Brightside for Families and Children campus.
“Our wide windows invite warmth into the setting,” Larkin said.
MercyLIFE is considered a health plan and once a client is enrolled, 100 percent of services deemed necessary are paid. Services range from preventive care, acute care and long-term care, to medication management, vision and dental services, and appointments with physician specialists.
“There are no deductibles, no exclusions,” Larkin said.
Enrollment in MercyLIFE can be done on the first day of every month, however, Larkin noted that the entire enrollment process can take up to two weeks to complete.
“The PACE program is adept at solving the problems the health system can’t solve – such as waiting for approvals for care,” said Larkin. “With PACE, a need is assessed and quickly met, reducing the likelihood of hospital readmission or decreased quality of life.”
Broudy added that the team of professionals at MercyLIFE work together with the client and family members to ensure the most “effective plan of care.”
PACE provides all the care and services covered by Medicare and Medicaid, as authorized by the MercyLIFE interdisciplinary team, as well as medically necessary care and services not covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Care and services can range from prescriptions, physician care, and transportation needs, to home care, check-ups, hospital visits, and nursing home stays if necessary.
Larkin emphasized that with PACE, one’s ability to pay will never hamper receiving the care needed.
There are several conditions that must be met before one can consider joining PACE. The conditions are:
• Individuals must be 55 years old or older.
• Individuals must live in the service area of a PACE organization.
• Individuals are certified by the state in which they live as meeting the need for the nursing home level of care or need two or more ADL’s (assistance with daily living) to live safety at home.
• Individuals are able to live safely in the community when they join with the help of PACE services.
PACE uses Medicare and Medicaid funds to cover all of one’s medically necessary care and services. Persons can have either Medicare or Medicaid or both to join PACE. In addition, program participants can choose to leave a PACE program at any time.
Larkin noted that the focus of every PACE organization is to help individuals live in the community for as long as possible.
“We see so many residents being admitted to nursing homes because their health has declined,” said Larkin. “With the right mix of services, such as what is available through PACE, they can often continue to live at home.”
Larkin also noted that MercyLIFE does not provide 24-hour care.
At MercyLIFE, health care providers include physicians, therapists, social workers, and nutritionists, as well as those in spiritual care and attendants to help with personal care needs. Transportation is provided to and from the center, and assistance is available when patients need to be taken to other medical appointments.
“Our clinical team continuously monitors each individual to ensure all of the person’s needs are met,” said Broudy. “We have an individualized care plan for each person and because our process is tightly coordinated, if we need to integrate or intervene with needed services, we can respond in real time.”
Tours of MercyLIFE are available and can be made by calling 748-PACE (7223).
“From gardening in our raised beds on the patio to yoga and tai chi classes, book groups, day trips and crafts, MercyLIFE can tailor each individual’s visit to their particular needs and interests,” Larkin said.
Socialization is also an important facet of a PACE program, and at MercyLIFE, participants can enjoy meals on campus as well as range of motion classes and discussions about current events.
There are also comfy, quiet spaces where individuals can rest or read a book.
“MercyLIFE provides care in a variety of settings in a compassionate way,” Broudy said, noting the mission of the Sisters of Providence is always evident in the work that is done.
“The MercyLIFE participant is at the center of everything we do,” she added. “We wrap around the services that are needed for each person.”
Both Broudy and Larkin stressed that MercyLIFE is a community space that is “safe, positive, and interactive.”
“Not everyone has to come to the campus every day,” said Larkin, adding that participants can access home-based services, including physicians, nurses, home maker services, personal care and home health aides. Also, MercyLIFE staff can provide valuable input in adapting one’s home to meet the changing needs of the participants.
MercyLIFE serves individuals in Hampden and Hampshire counties.