Franciscan Health, Michigan City is developing a Comprehensive Elderly Care Program (PACE) for La Porte County. The program is scheduled to start this year.

Franciscans already have PACE centers in Dyer, Indiana, and Indianapolis.

The Michigan City PACE will also serve seniors in parts of Porter and St. Joseph counties.

PACE serves people aged 55 and over who prefer to receive their care in their own familiar environment. This service has particularly helped seniors during the pandemic by keeping them out of nursing homes, which sometimes have frequent cases of COVID-19.

“We are working on an interdisciplinary team approach. Each participant is assigned a nurse, social worker, physical therapist, occupational therapist, nutritionist, nurse, and home care coordinator. We take care of everything, ”said Laurie Matthys, Director of the Dyer PACE Center.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dyer PACE Day Center was a place where the current 126 program participants in Lake County gathered, socialized, and received assistance with drug management and coordinating external appointments. To limit the spread of the coronavirus, the daycare has temporarily restricted attendees’ participation and urged PACE staff to find new ways to maintain these social ties.

The change meant focusing more resources on where the participants lived, from skilled care to socialization. “Our goal is to keep them safe in their homes instead of dragging them to day care,” added Matthys.

Employees have made window visits with customers, sent them home leisure activities, organized conference calls between employees and members, equipped home devices with exercise equipment, delivered care packages, and provided transportation to medical appointments.

When conditions return to normal and family carers return to work, staff will make more visits to customers’ homes.

For more information on PACE, visit (844) 817-7223.