TRAVERSE CITY — Kory Hansen walks through the old Grand Traverse County Health Department building on Garfield Road North and sees the future of northern Michigan senior care before him.
Hansen, chief executive officer of the county’s senior residential care facility — the Grand Traverse Pavilions — pays little attention to the empty rooms and old dental clinic equipment that protrude from the floor of the aging health district building.
He instead sees what’s ahead: a vibrant center that allows the elderly to live at home, as opposed to moving into a nursing care facility.
“People will be able to stay at home as long as possible, and they will still receive a higher level of care,” Hansen said.
Hansen is describing plans to transform the old county health building into a PACE Center, or Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly. A PACE center is a novel concept in the nursing home world that congregates nurses, doctors, therapists, aid providers and any other professional services for seniors under one roof — in this case the old county health building.
Then, instead of moving seniors into the building or a place like the Pavilions for full-time nursing home residency, fragile seniors who need extensive care are bused to the center for services, then driven back home. They get all their medical treatment, therapy and other services in one stop at the PACE center, then get to sleep in their own bed at night.
“It’s the way the industry is heading,” Hansen said. “From the consumer’s standpoint, as the boomers age, no one wants to go into a nursing home. But there comes a point where they have to. Former generations accepted it, but the newer generations want to stay in their homes as long as possible.”
PACE Centers target people who can’t afford private nursing home care. Medicaid or Medicare pay the bills, but an individual who wants to pay personally can also access the services. The centers are proven to save taxpayer dollars. They reduce hospitalizations of the elderly by more than 40 percent and also reduce senior trips to multiple doctor offices.