Program for elderly opens on Westside
Rocky Mountain Health Care Services of Colorado Springs recently opened the first Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) in El Paso County at
2335 Robinson St.
Funded through Medicare and Medicaid but exceeding their previous limitations, the program is geared for the frail elderly (55 and older) who want to keep living in their own homes. According to Laurie Tebo, Rocky Mountain's president and CEO, PACE focuses on a "prevention methodology" in which the clients are regularly assessed by all those involved in their care, from the physicians and therapists to the bus driver who transports them to and from the facility. "PACE has shown itself to be extremely successful at increasing the quality of services available while actually decreasing the costs of care," she said.
Covered services include primary and specialty medical care; prescriptions; "through-door" transportation; an adult day/health center; in-home support and care; physical, occupational and recreational therapies; mental health counseling, and hospitalization and emergency services.
The 13,000-square-foot Robinson Street facility had been a police substation until the early 1990s. Some renovation was (and still is) necessary to modify the building for the program, but its size and solid one-story construction were appealing, said Oren Olson, the facility's director of operations. Also, he added, Rocky Mountain officials liked the proximity to I-25 and having Silver Key Senior Services nearby at Robinson and Bott Avenue.
Clients typically get accepted into the program after references from different programs that work with the elderly, Olson noted.
The program has 22 clients now and could handle up to 250, said Diane Lindberg, certified therapeutic recreation therapist for PACE. This is possible because people come on different days and not all are in the building at the same time, she added.
An unanticipated plus at the Robinson Street site was Rocky Mountain's neighbor- across the street is the Community Partnership for Child Development (CPCD), which runs the Head Start programs in El Paso County. Since PACE opened in December, a weekly get-together has evolved in which Head Start brings its youngsters over for about an hour to visit the PACE folks.
Lindberg tries to come up with different games the kids and seniors can play together, such as a recent encounter involving connecting blocks, play dough and the Mr. Potato Head family. "A lot of the Head Start kids don't live near their grandparents, and a lot of the elderly don't have grandchildren, so it's a good interaction," she said.
Another factor, according to Tom Sharp, a Head Start teacher, is that many of the Head Start kids have young parents and, as a result, "don't have the opportunity to spend quality time with older adults. This partnership is a great way for our preschoolers to get that exposure, and I know it is great for the seniors as well."
Rocky Mountain Health Care Services was originally founded in Colorado Springs as Homemaker Services in 1976. Other services the company provides (though not at Robinson Street) are Rocky Mountain Brain Injury Services and Rocky Mountain Options for Long-Term Care.
The PACE program started as a senior outreach effort in San Francisco, Calif., in 1971, eventually being embraced at the federal level. Programs are now at 60 sites in 30 states. Others in Colorado are in Denver and Montrose.
Westside Pioneer/press release