Penny Abulencia Retires As Executive Director of PACE CNY

August 11, 2017

Penny Abulencia, RN, MS, has retired as executive director of PACE CNY and senior vice president of Loretto after 20 years.

Stephanie Button, MSW, who has been with PACE since 2001, was named the new executive director of PACE CNY.

Abulencia joined Loretto as vice president of Clinical Services for skilled nursing and the housing programs in 1997. In her first few years, she coordinated the clinical components of a $14 million renovation and led a team charged with maintaining census while making 1,200 resident moves. Both were accomplished without any adverse patient outcomes. In 2001 she was asked to lead PACE CNY. There were 189 participants on her first day, and that number has grown to 558 today.

Malta Manor apartments opened during her first year with PACE. As residents aged in place at the facility, which is adjacent to the PACE center, many became participants in the PACE program. A shared aide program was instituted to serve PACE participants at Malta Manor under her leadership.

Program growth led to the opening of a second day center at the McAuliffe Center on the main Loretto campus. Forest View then opened to offer affordable family-style housing for frail elders, followed by O’Brien Road Community Apartments for aging adults, including PACE participants.

In 2015 a larger PACE site in East Syracuse replaced the center on the Loretto campus. In addition to serving as executive director of PACE, Abulencia resumed oversight of senior housing programs for Loretto during the last few years.

During her career with Loretto, she developed the nurse management team, reformulated the nursing education department, implemented enhanced CNA training, and initiated on-site learning opportunities for all staff. She was active on various boards and committees, including PACE/MLTC, LeadingAge, Medicaid Redesign Workforce, New York Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, Commission on Quality of Care for Persons with Disabilities, and Meals on Wheels

Abulencia recognized talent, mentored hundreds, and created a workplace environment where staff felt encouraged and supported. In 2014 she received an Innovation in Health Care Award from the CNY Business Journal for her significant impact on the quality of health care and services in the greater Syracuse area. She was a featured presenter at the National PACE Association Annual Conferences in 2008 and 2015 and at the 19th Annual Senior Living and Finance Conference in 2016.

Citing her leadership and vision, the PACE CNY team said in a letter of farewell, “You have guided us to success through many challenges by your perseverance in always looking for a constructive win-win solution and nudging us to focus on moving forward. You have also challenged us to set high but attainable standards and expectations. You have provided the latitude for each team member to pursue his/her professional goals. You were the ultimate team builder. We are inspired by the awesome career and the accomplishments you have achieved. Hopefully, your vision, work ethic, energy and caring attitude will be modeled for years to come from all those you mentored.”

Abulencia plans to enjoy some time off before starting a consulting business.

Loretto is a comprehensive continuing health care organization that serves more than 7,000 individuals and their families throughout Central New York through 20 specialized care programs, including a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Eldery (PACE®). PACE CNY serves residents of Onondaga County.

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