Providence ElderPlace — a care system for older adults that combines healthcare and social services in one place — opened its newest location on June 1 in Kent to serve more vulnerable, low-income seniors in South King County.

Providence ElderPlace Alder, located at 1404 Central Ave. South, is part of the federal Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). This marks the fifth Providence PACE center in King County. Others are on the Renton/Kent border, and in Redmond, South Seattle’s Rainier Valley, and West Seattle.

The new center will serve more seniors who live in Kent, Renton, Federal Way, Auburn, Maple Valley, Covington, Algona, and Pacific.

The Providence ElderPlace Alder medical clinic in the new Kent location. (Photos by Cara Aguilera.)

The PACE program offers medical care, long-term care and social services to seniors 55 and older who wish to age in place. ElderPlace runs the program in a three-way partnership with the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

ElderPlace provides a care and support network outside the home to reduce nursing home and hospital stays. It does this by monitoring seniors through regularly scheduled visits or virtual contacts, and providing the necessary preventive care — all using providers specializing in geriatrics.

“The average person gets touched, if you will, by a call or eyes-on contact, about 10 times a month,” said Susan Tuller, executive director of ElderPlace in Washington.

Providence ElderPlace Alder in Kent includes areas for physical therapy.

Services include an onsite medical clinic, primary care through an onsite doctor, nursing care, physical and speech therapies, social services, family and caregiver support, in-home personal care services, medication management, activities, meals and more. It is not a residential facility.

“The point of us is to help people stay and age in place where they are choosing to live,” Tuller said. “As they age and begin to have more care needs, they shouldn’t be forced out of those communities into residential care settings.”

She called ElderPlace predominantly a primary care provider, “but we also provide these wraparound medical and social services to help support people staying in their community based-setting.”

Providence ElderPlace, one of the first PACE programs in the country about 25 years ago, has demonstrated its value, Tuller said.

ElderPlace participants are hospitalized less often, readmit less often, have shorter hospital stays, and lower rates of infection and mortality than the comparable Medicare population not in the program, she said.

“It’s pretty remarkable what paying attention in a coordinated fashion with all these different members of the (ElderPlace) interdisciplinary team, how powerful that is,” Tuller said.

Caregivers are able to monitor elders even during the COVID-19 pandemic, either via telehealth or sending staff to their homes.

The new Providence ElderPlace Alder in Kent includes common areas for social gatherings and meals.

“So we can enroll people in the program without ever having to actually bring them to the center,” she said.

When they do come to the center, ElderPlace provides the transportation. ElderPlace is having to re-imagine how activities at the center look in a post-pandemic world, but it’s also able to offer activities in seniors’ homes like Zoom exercise classes and social meetups. It also ensures seniors have food security in their homes.

About 99 percent of people in the program are on both Medicaid and Medicare, so they’re low income, and elderly or disabled, Tuller said, noting the fastest growing population qualifying or ElderPlace services lives in South King County, which the new facility conveniently serves.

For more information, contact Jenny Kentta at 206-320-5325 or jenny.kentta@providence.org.