San Marcos, CA–After more than 420 days of limited operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders at North San Diego County’s Gary and Mary West PACE have re-opened their Adult Day Health Center in San Marcos.
The center’s staff hosted a “Welcome Week,” to celebrate the return of participants age 55 and older to their center to once again enjoy social activities and engagement in a congregant setting and combat social isolation. Activities planned include visits from community pet therapy volunteers, exercise sessions, haircuts in the on-site salon, musical entertainment, art workshops, and games.
“We are thrilled to reopen our doors to Adult Day Health Center and provide the much needed in-person socialization they have desperately needed after a long year of stress and isolation,” says Rena Smith, executive director, West PACE. “We have taken the highest safety measures to bring participants back, and look forward to finally seeing their smiling faces again.”
The center, which ceased recreational activities on March 13, 2020, will operate at a reduced operational capacity to start, and will re-evaluate as necessary. They will adjust the daily attendance at the center and per Federal and State guidelines. West PACE has safety protocols in place to help seniors feel at ease as they return to the recreational programs at the Adult Day Health Center.
● All staff have been fully vaccinated and will continue to wear PPE.
● All participants using the Adult Day Health Center have been fully vaccinated and will continue to wear PPE while engaging in recreational activities but will be able to remove them for congregate dining with other fully vaccinated cohorts.
● Daily temperatures and COVID assessments are administered to participants and staff prior to Adult Day Health Center entrance.
● Furniture and equipment will be cleaned and sanitized before and after every use.
● West PACE will transport up to three fully vaccinated participants at a time for their scheduled times at the Adult Day Health Center in vans (non-vaccinated participants will be transported in vans at a smaller ratio, and separately from those fully vaccinated).
● Participants who have elected to not be vaccinated will continue to come to West PACE for their scheduled clinical appointments, but will not be able to engage in meals or social activities with other participants.
The nonprofit West PACE is an innovative nationwide model of person-centered care designed to improve the lives of seniors, particularly those who are low-income and lack extensive caregiving and healthcare resources.
Since March 2020, West PACE was a critical lifeline to vulnerable seniors. Despite the challenges of limited in-person contact, West PACE adapted, offering seniors with chronic care needs “wrap around” medical care and social support for seniors and their family caregivers as they isolated themselves at home. But West PACE needed to pause recreational services to prevent gathering of people and to stop the spread of COVID-19. Their full-service medical clinic designed just for seniors remained open and providers continued to see participants with active medical issues at scheduled appointment times. They also administered many other services in participants’ homes and through telehealth practices to minimize the risk of infection.
In February 2021, the center served as a site for a seniors-only vaccination clinic, coordinated as a public-private effort among the Gary and Mary West Foundation, West PACE, the Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center, West Health, the County of San Diego, City of San Marcos, and 2-1-1 San Diego.
“No one knows the true extent of this pandemic – especially the damage it has done to our seniors and their physical and mental well-being,” says Dr. Ross Colt, medical director, West PACE. “Bringing our participants back to the Adult Day Health Center allows us to provide the final pieces of holistic medical services for seniors that we are known for and alleviate the stress of long-term isolation.”
At its core, the PACE healthcare model is about keeping seniors living at home in their communities, safely. Over 90 percent of PACE participants are able to successfully remain in their homes and communities, many live longer, are more socially engaged and have a better quality of life than those in nursing homes or other institutional settings. The PACE model also reduces ER visits and hospital admissions among seniors, which was extremely critical in the early months of the pandemic. PACE participants are at one-third the risk of nursing home residents for contracting COVID-19, according to the National PACE Association (NPA).
Established with a grant from the Gary and Mary West Foundation, West PACE provides supportive services for seniors age 55 or older who live in North County San Diego and meet state requirements for nursing home level of care. Services offered include medical care, transportation, nutritional assistance, dental care, in-home assistance, pharmacy services, social engagement, caregiver training and support groups, and more.
PACE is a program providing all the care and services for older adults and people over age 55 who otherwise need a nursing home level of care as covered by Medicare and Medi-Cal and as authorized by the interdisciplinary team. If participants are enrolled in Medicare and Medi-Cal, they will pay nothing, or they will pay their Medi-Cal “share of cost.” The program also accepts people enrolled only in Medi-Cal and people who want to pay privately.