Clarion Herald: PACE: An Innovative Way Of Keeping Seniors At Home

Dr. Jeryl Parmenter recently joined the staff at PACE GNO, an affiliated ministry of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, which provides a comprehensive network of social services to connect clients living in eight civil parishes within the archdiocese to resources that empower them and their families to thrive and remain living at home.

PACE GNO acts as a springboard to self-sufficiency for those 55 and older struggling with health and daytime care issues. PACE currently has two locations and provides transportation to and from doctor appointments and each site: the Benson Center at St. Cecilia in Bywater New Orleans, and Hope Haven at St. John Bosco on Barataria Boulevard in Marrero

The Clarion Herald asked Dr. Parmenter about her background and PACE services. She was born in Oklahoma and has worked with seniors, first as an RN in intensive care at different facilities. She also has taught and mentored students and residents of Lake Erie Osteopathic Medical School and spent 26 years serving seniors and also female veterans at Women’s Clinic of North Carolina, in the Florida Healthcare Systems and in private practice.

She first came to New Orleans in 2007 and fell in love with the city and its people. She has practiced locally at federally qualified health centers, such as Daughters of Charity in New Orleans and another healthcare company.

You said you believe the medical field is one of service and that using the osteopathic way of treating seniors is most beneficial because you do more than prescribe medicine.

It’s treating health a little more holistically, to help patients understand how to take medicine properly. No matter how you look on the outside, you are the same on the inside. The older generation has given us so much.

What can PACE offer to seniors who have little money and now are trying to live on Social Security?

The things that PACE can do with patients are miraculous. PACE wraps its arms around the patients and families, and we try to give them what they need to stay in their home and be successful. Doctors and nurses are accessible by phone beyond weekday hours. We do whatever it is the patients and families need. PACE strives to meet the needs of the community differently than most senior care centers. There’s an individualized approach to care planning and services needed by the community at both the PACE centers and in the home by offering in-home care. PACE contracts with hospitals and care providers outside of the center to meet those secondary care goals.

Do you have any ideas about doing things differently or adding new services at PACE?

PACE GNO has actually instituted many procedural and departmental changes, such as recently enlarging the well-care area so that physical activity is easily accessed by those who are independently going to the wellness center for physical maintenance. (PACE GNO has also increased its physical and occupational therapy equipment.) This has been quite successful in helping those who have dealt with rehabilitation efforts by strengthening muscles after a change-of-life instance such as a fall or stroke. In fact, PACE has seen several participants improve to the point of being able to transfer from their wheelchair to their bed or chair on their own due to physical therapy concentrated on building upper-body strength.

How many clients does PACE serve, and what do you hear from PACE clients?

PACE currently has approximately 185 participants with a program that is capped at 200 by the Office of Adult and Aging Services for the state of Louisiana. We hear from both caregivers and participants about how PACE has benefited them in a myriad of ways. For PACE participants, the program is a chance to socialize and stay active in a community where they are treated with dignity and respect. The transportation provided by PACE is also a great benefit and one that is greatly cherished by many who have no transportation or limited incomes. We also offer an occupational therapy program called Skills2Care that helps caregivers. It’s led by an occupational therapist who has been with PACE GNO for 12 years and is among a handful of licensed Skills2Care practitioners in Louisiana. The caregivers of loved ones are part of the care plan at PACE and are involved in every decision regarding a continuum of care. We hear from caregivers that PACE has been a resource for socialization at the center and supplies needed support for caregivers at home seeking care advice for their loved ones.

Have there been any expansion plans for PACE in the New Orleans area?

Beginning in April 2018, Hope Haven at St. John Bosco PACE Alternate Care Center expanded its hours to Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

– Christine Bordelon


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