June 13, 2008

County Center to Serve the Frail Elderly

By Kathleen Kellogg

Cattaraugus County will soon be the only New York location and one of only 15 rural centers nationwide providing the frail elderly a range of services under the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services provided $500,000 to Community Care of Western New York, also known to the Olean community as HomeCare and Hospice, to establish Total Senior Care as a rural PACE program. PACE aims to keep seniors living on their own as long as possible by providing them comprehensive care at home or in an independent living situation, to keep costs down.

Total Senior Care will begin serving 10 patients Nov. 1 in its PACE Center, to be located in a new building now being constructed by Park Centre Development on North Union Street in Olean at the location of the former Eade's Fitness.

According to Kelly Dickerson, communications director for Total Senior Care's affiliated organization, HomeCare and Hospice, the center's population will grow to 205 within five years, with eligible frail elderly patients receiving a range of services at that location and at home. Services will include inpatient and outpatient primary care services, adult day care, home care, nutrition, primary care, specialty care, pharmacy and therapy, along with nursing home and other health services.

"The federal government wanted to cover the rural elderly population . . . Rural PACE doesn't exist [in rural New York]. It's brand new," Dickerson said. She noted that a three-year study showed her organization capable of managing the center for Cattaraugus County's frail elderly, who face transportation issues and have other special needs not seen in more-populated communities. The Cattaraugus County Legislature, which oversees two county nursing homes, voted unanimously Wednesday to support the effort, authorizing a six-month $25,000 contract that will develop Total Senior Care's programs. The funding will be taken from the county's 2006 Seneca Allegany Casino revenue allotment, which is earmarked for economic development.

"This is a very good program and it's going to help the county's senior care services," said Robert Neal, R-Randolph, the Legislature's Senior Services Committee chairman.

"The Cattaraugus County Department of the Aging and the Department of Social Services have been very supportive," Dickerson said. "They see it as adding another option for residents of Cattaraugus County. There is a growing wave of elderly coming, the baby boomers, and there are not enough services in place to take on that wave that's coming."

She said that care for each patient will be reviewed regularly by an interdisciplinary team and that Olean General Hospital will send doctors in to cover inpatient and outpatient medical appointments.

Originally published by CATTARAUGUS CORRESPONDENT.

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