A new type of nursing home is on its way to being completed in Merced.
Golden Valley Health Centers broke ground Friday on a new senior care facility at its campus on Childs Avenue. Merced PACE, which reimagines the way seniors are cared for, is expected to be completed sometime late next year with a tentative opening date of July 2024.
“There’s nothing like it here in Merced County,” said GVHC president Tony Weber.
PACE, which stands for Program All-inclusive Care for the Elderly – after the Medicare plan of the same name – is designed as a sort of one-stop-shop for seniors and their medical care needs. The PACE facility comes with a full team of primary care physicians, dental and vision providers and physical therapy specialists. It also features a day center that provides meals and social activities, acting as a sort of home away from home rather than a cold, sterile hospital environment.
“Maybe it’s because I’m getting old and I’m feeling the need for some PACE services, but I just think it’s a tremendous program for our seniors,” said Weber. “For seniors that are on the verge of having to go to a nursing home or go to the hospital, this program works very, very hard. We manage their care closely to try to keep them independent and at home, healthy and out of the institutions.”
It’s an alternative to traditional nursing homes, where seniors often have to leave their homes and communities behind. With PACE, seniors can live at home and still have their needs met.
“If you’re in healthcare, you’ve heard the term managed care. When managed care first came along, it was kind of a dirty word because people felt like it was a way to exclude services from patients and just keep more of the revenue,” said Weber. “But the PACE program is what I call the epitome of managed care in a good way. It’s the type of managed care that the whole healthcare system should be involved with.”
Golden Valley opened their first PACE facility in Modesto last year. It already serves around 200 seniors in that area, and the high demand is what prompted the expansion to GVHC’s first and largest campus here in Merced.
“It’s been unbelievably successful and we’ve seen how it changes people’s lives and not only for the seniors, but for their families,” Weber said. “I really wanted to bring a PACE program right here on the south campus where it all started for Golden Valley.”
GVHC celebrated its 50th anniversary earlier this year. The non-profit is funded by federal programs, grants and donations, and began in 1972 as a health clinic for migrant farm workers in the Central Valley. The campus on Childs Avenue is the non-profits oldest and largest facility in the Valley.
The PACE program is available to qualified seniors. You have to be at least 55 years old, live in the service area and meet California’s eligibility requirements for nursing facilities. To see if you qualify, visit cvpace.org.