By Bob Highfill
STOCKTON – Stockton PACE recently celebrated its first year with a gala. Dozens enjoyed refreshments and a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Stockton PACE center on Harding Way inside University Park.
Stockton PACE serves eligible San Joaquin County and eastern Stanislaus County residents 55 and older with services including access to medical care from nurses and physicians; hospital, emergency and urgent care; short-term rehabilitation and long-term care; prescription medications delivered at home; home support that includes visits, equipment and supplies; dentistry; optometry; audiology; podiatry and many more.
Stockton PACE has set a blistering pace in growth.
“Last year we opened our doors to five participants,” said Stockton Pace’s executive director Jillian Simon. “We’ve served 169 people over the year and we are growing very quickly.”
Stockton PACE has capacity for 500 participants. Simon said the program’s growth has created more jobs.
“We also have had the ability to bring 65 jobs to the community, which has been really wonderful,” she said. “When you enroll into a PACE program each participant gets assigned its own care team.”
Depending on the participant’s needs, a team that can include social workers, doctors, occupational physical therapists and more are assigned to the individual. The participants live independently in the community and go to PACE to receive wrap-around services. PACE offers a day center, serves breakfast and lunch, holds activities, and has a spa and rehab unit and more.
“What’s amazing about the whole program is the interdisciplinary team makes the decisions for the care the person needs with that participant,” said Kristi Halva, outreach and enrollment director. “So we decide when we take care of the person, and it’s not some third party insurance outside of the care team, so it’s a full wrap-around.”
PACE services are free for most people who have Medi-Cal or a combination of Medicare and Medi-Cal with no share of cost. Those who have Medi-Cal with a share of cost will pay that monthly. Those eligible for Medicare but not Medi-Cal will pay Medi-Cal and Medicare Part D premiums. Those not eligible for Medicare or Medi-Cal may pay the self-pay rate for PACE.
Halva worked in home health before she joined PACE about three months ago. She said she saw the need as a nurse in people’s homes but didn’t know how to help them bridge the gap, especially those with straight Medi-Cal because there is limited service availability.
“So, I’m not surprised by the growth,” she said. “In fact, I think eventually there will be a waiting line out the door.”
Bonnie Canary, 75, didn’t know anything about Stockton PACE until she received an email. Canary lives at a senior services community center in Escalon where she said there aren’t a lot of activities and the residents keep to themselves. After reading the email, she applied and the next day she was accepted.
“They set up an appointment to talk to me and they sent my application to Medicaid and Medi-Cal and I was approved the next day, which was really surprising,” she said.
Canary started going to Stockton PACE last July. At the time, she had what she described as a down state of mind. But that changed quickly.
“They gave me such wonderful love, even though I was so down,” Canary said. “They worked with me and brought me where I am today. I feel like a flower blooming. I feel wonderful about the people who work there. They show so much love.”
Stockton PACE stepped in to help Canary keep her dog, a Dacshund she named Daisy. Canary fell and broke her pelvic bone and spent a week in the hospital. The residents at the senior community center complained about Daisy, who was left behind while Canary was in the hospital. Stockton PACE got Daisy and paid for her shots and brought her to Canary.
“That was the most beautiful thing they could have done,” she said. “So I know they care.”
Stockton PACE is available to anyone who qualifies. Halva said one of Stockton PACE’s outreach members, Dave Gonzalez, is involved in many cultural community events.
“A lot of our PCAs are Spanish speaking as well and there already seems to be a community of participants who know each other or there’s instant engagement,” Halva said. “So, we’re open to serving every part of the community.”
To learn more, visit https://www.stocktonace.com or call (209) 442-6077 or (209) 932-0357.