State with Long History of PACE Will Host NPA Annual Conference

August 26, 2022
By Sam Adebesin

The National PACE Association (NPA) will hold its first in-person annual conference since 2019 this fall in Washington, a state that has a long history of Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). The 2022 NPA Annual Conference will take place Oct. 9-12 in Seattle.

Today, Washington is served by three organizations that sponsor PACE: Providence ElderPlace – Washington, International Community Health Services and MultiCare Health System.

Attendees of the NPA Annual Conference will have an opportunity to tour the local PACE programs.

Committed to Health Equity and Diversity

The oldest PACE program in the state is Providence ElderPlace – Washington, which began operating in 1993. The program has its origins in the Sisters of Providence (now Providence), a community of Catholic women who served individuals with long-term care needs, regardless of their ability to pay, as part of their ministry. Their work led them to seek out ways to serve those in need while offering the greatest amount of autonomy and dignity.

The Sisters of Providence were known as “progressive leaders in providing long-term care,” according to Rachel Ragland, a Philanthropy officer with Providence ElderPlace. They started the first licensed assisted living community in the state and were founding members of the Pioneer Network, developing the transformative model of person-centered care at their internationally recognized long- term care community, Providence Mount St. Vincent.

The PACE model aligned with the mission of the Sisters of Providence of serving low-income frail elderly in the community, and they hoped to better serve frail individuals and their families by enabling them to receive services while living in the comfort of their community. The Sisters of Providence reached out to On Lok in 1993 to assess the feasibility of developing its first PACE program in south Seattle.

Providence ElderPlace – Washington now operates seven centers and serves more than 1,100 participants. Three of their centers are new, opening during the COVID-19 pandemic, and one serves Spokane County, an under-served and more rural area of eastern Washington.

The organization is passionately committed to making health equity and diversity, equity and inclusion the guiding pillar of its work, hiring a Community Outreach coordinator to develop trusting partnerships within the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and LGBTQIA communities in their service areas.

Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services

International Community Health Services (ICHS) PACE has roots dating back to 1973, when Asian community leaders and student activists were angered by the living conditions of the elderly. At the time, the only option for community elders was hotels with single-room occupancy in the dilapidated Chinatown/International District neighborhood. ICHS was founded as part of the civil rights movement, with the Asian community demanding equal rights and access to services.

“ICHS is deeply rooted in the Asian and Pacific Islander community and known for providing culturally and linguistically appropriate health and wellness services and promoting health equity for all,” explained Ian Munar, manager of Planning, Development and Evaluation at ICHS.

Initially, ICHS focused on the needs of isolated and elderly Chinese and Filipino men with no health care. The arrival of Vietnam War refugees in the 1970s quickly shifted services to accommodate additional languages and all ages. ICHS now serves communities with more than 70 different languages.

ICHS developed a PACE program in 2019 to offer seniors a comprehensive set of services and continuity of care. The organization grew from its humble beginnings as the Asian Community Health Clinic to become a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).

Less than a year after starting its PACE program, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. ICHS PACE was able to pivot its services to continue providing care for participants as safely as possible and recently celebrated its third anniversary.

A Healing and Healthy Future

Pacific Northwest (PNW) PACE Partners, the newest PACE program in the state, opened earlier this year and is eager to learn from other programs and their successes in providing exceptional care that allows vulnerable seniors to live with dignity in their homes. The program has made coordinating and partnering with other PACE organizations in the state a part of its foundation, while becoming integrated in the community. The program has helped PACE reach new territory by bringing PACE to Pierce County.

PNW PACE Partners is a program of MultiCare Health System, which has been caring for communities in the state since the founding of the first hospital in Tacoma in 1882.

Lynn Siedenstrang, vice president of the Care Continuum at MultiCare Health System, had been interested in developing a PACE program for many years. She had seen how beautifully PACE programs served vulnerable seniors and knew that the work aligned with the vision, values and mission of MultiCare to partner with the community for a healing and healthy future.

“MultiCare saw the opportunity to directly serve vulnerable seniors by addressing social determinates of health, while serving others in the community by helping to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations,” said Laura Stengel, executive director of PNW PACE

The program is motivated to reduce unnecessary emergency department visits, thereby increasing access to acute care for those who require that level of care and reducing premature long-term care placement, resulting in a better quality of life for seniors and their families.

While the PACE organizations in Washington vary in age and census, each of them is looking forward to growth in the future – not just for their own sake, but to transform the lives of the people they serve.

Sam Adebesin is the Editorial Content Creator at NPA.

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