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Centra PACE Opens in Gretna July 1

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Home > Centra PACE Opens in Gretna July 1

Centra PACE Opens in Gretna July 1

Friday, July 1, 2016

Centra will open its third Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly in Gretna — better known as PACE. 

PACE provides a vast array of healthcare services to people 55 or older who meet nursing-facility requirements so they can remain in their homes. Services range from medication management to physical therapy and  primary care needs,  and depend on patient needs.

“The Gretna community has really welcomed us with open arms,” PACE Director Dr. Verna Sellers said last week while speaking with The News & Advance.  She added Centra invited the community into the new center for an open house in April.  We determined Gretna needed the program because of the town’s aging population, Sellers said. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services affirmed the need when it approved the application Centra submitted for the center more than a year ago.

According to Sellers, those 65 and older comprise 13 percent of Gretna’s population. In Lynchburg and Farmville, that number is closer to 19 percent, she said.

The American Association on Aging estimates by 2020, the country will have more than 70 million residents age 60 and above — about two million will be in Virginia.

“As people get older, their ability to care for themselves often becomes limited due to chronic disease like arthritis and chronic lung disease,” which makes it harder for them to remain in their homes without assistance, she said.

Changes in the economy and society, including a decrease in the number of children staying close to home to care for aging parents, have increased the need for programs such as PACE, Sellers said.

Although the Gretna site is equipped to serve 110 clients, Sellers anticipates more may need PACE’s services. People don’t always recognize they need assistance and often are referred to the program by social services or loved ones.

“Gretna is a more rural area and more spread out, and I think there will be a great need for the medical services, especially the transportation part that PACE provides,” Sellers said.

PACE can provide clients with aides in the home to help with bathing and dressing; help with medication; physical, occupational and recreational therapy; direct access to physicians, certified nursing assistants, and nurses; plus transportation to and from the site.

When needed, providers follow clients to hospitals and nursing homes so there is no disruption in their care.

Participants are not required to visit the site a certain number of times, although Sellers admits she would like to see clients at least monthly for a check-up and to provide health maintenance.

After a few visits, Sellers said, clients often end up looking forward to seeing their bus drivers and want to come to meet friends or go on outings.

The Gretna center will be staffed by a full-time nurse practitioner, a center manager and board certified geriatricians Sellers and Dr. Lauren Massaro. In September, after she completes her hospice and palliative care fellowship, Dr. Lakeshia Entzminger, also a board certified geriatrician, will join the staff.