Taking a look at Piedmont Health Services for National Health Center Week
It’s National Health Center Week! As big fans of supporting healthy people and communities (we DO spend our days figuring out how to get people from point A to point B) we’d like to highlight and recognize one of our customers, Piedmont Health Services, Inc.
According to the National Association of Community Health Centers, about 1 out of every 15 people living in the U.S. depends on services provided by a health center. In central North Carolina, that translates to about 50,000 people annually who rely on the 12 Piedmont Health locations, including two senior centers. While the main centers provide medical, dental, and WIC services, among others, the senior centers fill a specific need for elderly members of their communities.
We spoke with Marianne Ratcliffe, Executive Director of Piedmont SeniorCare, a Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), who has led the program's planning and growth since its inception 11 years ago.
“I felt strongly enough about the project to step off the (Piedmont Health Services) board and help develop the program,” she said.
The two centers, one in Pittsboro and one in Burlington, serve about 300 patients from a 2,200-square-mile area, and administrators forsee expansion by another 100 patients by the end of the year. Ratcliffe describes them as a “one-stop shop” for their patients’ healthcare and daily needs.
“These are frail seniors who are nursing-home eligible and want to age in place,” Ratcliffe said. “PACE provides whatever services are needed to care for an individual to keep them healthy and safe at home.”
Patients at the centers receive primary care, recreation, in-home care, durable medical equipment, medication assistance, personal care, and dietary assistance from the centers’ teams of providers. The fee-for-service centers, which are Medicare and Medicaid-eligible, serve as medical homes for patients 55 years and older, and are the central point of primary care other services for many.
“We bring them here a specified number of days a week, on varying schedules,” Ratcliffe said. “People have home care, so we work around those schedules, and many people can’t be left alone, so we work around these variables.” Transportation staff plan minimized travel times, so patients don’t have to endure long bus rides, and accommodate the spectrum of their patients’ mobility needs.
The larger mission of Piedmont SeniorCare—providing seniors the tools to stay at home longer—reflects the overall health center philosophy of building strong communities.
“PACE supports caregivers and families and seniors in maintaining their quality of life and aging in community,” Ratcliffe said, regarding a population of aging baby boomers who are living longer. “We’re going to have to build a lot more nursing homes, or we can figure out how to care for our community. That’s our mission at Piedmont.”