Personal Care Attendant Alica Cosby, left, and Recreational Therapy Assistant Una Jenkins discusses the benefits of Suncoast PACE at the Adult Day Center.
BY KAREN DAVIS-PRITCHETT M.ED., Empath Health Vice President of Access and Inclusion
PINELLAS COUNTY — Una Jenkins and Alicia Cosby are dedicated employees of Suncoast PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly). They also have first-hand knowledge of what PACE means to the program’s participants who remain safe at home.
Cosby, a personal care attendant who has been with Suncoast PACE for nearly 10 years, was the primary caregiver for her grandmother, Jessie Lee Wilson. PACE allowed Cosby to keep working for Suncoast while her grandmother got the assistance she needed, including delivering meals and trips to medical appointments. Jenkins’ sister, Joann Norfleet, also was a PACE participant.
“They are able to stay in their home because we provide those services,” Cosby said of the participants she visits in the field. “That’s a big thing compared to being in a nursing home. And their caregiver also. If the participant lives with their daughter or son, they are still able to go to work.”
Suncoast PACE, a member of Empath Health, is a nonprofit provider of healthcare and support services to Pinellas County seniors with chronic health conditions. The focus of PACE is to help participants remain healthy and independent while living in their homes.
Services include primary care, therapies, skilled care, social and emotional support, and daycare at our Suncoast PACE Day Center and Medical Clinic. Also, in-home care and support and transportation to and from Suncoast PACE or other PACE-approved specialists.
PACE currently serves 325 seniors in Pinellas County. To be eligible, a prospective PACE participant must be age 55 or older, certified by the state to need nursing home level of care, a Pinellas County resident and able to continue to live at home without jeopardizing health or safety.
Services are covered at 100 percent for those with both Medicare and Medicaid. There is a fee for participants who are not Medicaid eligible, and private pay also is available.
“A lot of them would be home alone all day,” Jenkins said of the Adult Day Center attendees. “They can come in and socialize and even get a meal. We offer lunch and a light breakfast, a snack. They can get out and see what’s really going on. It’s a very helpful, unique program. They get delivered meals free and medical care. They don’t have to worry about anything.”
Jenkins is the recreational therapy assistant at the Adult Day Care Center. She plans and oversees activities and helps run the center day-to-day. Jenkins said bingo and macrame are the most popular activities, but there are special events planned every day based on upcoming holidays or the seasons, chair yoga, and Wii bowling and dances. An outdoor area features gardening activities, and a place for relaxation is also available.
Jenkins and Cosby both say they receive tremendous gratification from helping Pinellas County’s elderly residents enjoy a good quality of life in the place they’re most comfortable. Suncoast PACE demonstrates Empath Health’s commitment to providing complete life care for the communities it serves.
“I just love working for PACE,” Cosby said. “It’s not like a job for me. When I get up in the morning, I’m going somewhere where I know I will be appreciated. If it’s not from my co-workers, it’s from my participants that I take care of. People always say thank you.”
For more information on Suncoast PACE and its services available to Pinellas seniors, please call (727) 289-0062 or visit SuncoastPACE.org.