A terrible loss to Rutland
Basketball fans look forward to March Madness, while all the people who go to PACE Vermont will just have March sadness. At the end of March, PACE will be closing its doors permanently.
The other PACE center, which is located in Colchester, will also be closing down. PACE is the abbreviation of “Program of All-inclusive Care of the Elderly.”
PACE Vermont is a community, adult, health care center that caters to the elderly and the physically challenged. All of the seniors who attend there will be socially isolated, as they do look forward to talking with others in group participation with different activities provided at PACE.
The facility offers a wide range of various activities, such as an exercise room, a game room, a quiet room with recliners to watch videos or for napping, an infirmary to help tend to the daily needs of those who require attention, plus daily, hot, nutritious meals.
The daily average of PACE participants is 30 to 40 people. The number of staff who work at PACE is about 40. All the staff are highly trained, caring and professional. They include a doctor, RNs, LNAs, PCAs (personal care attendants), PTs (physical therapists), OTs (occupational therapists), case managers, a social worker and office staff.
PACE has been in the Rutland area now for a little more than five years and is serving the health needs of low-income senior citizens who meet eligibility requirements. PACE Vermont was being managed through an organization called “Volunteers of America” based in Minnesota. Members of the Rutland health community were also interested in forming and in providing long-term, health care solutions for elders.
The financial crisis that we all are in, and slowly being pushed off the fiscal cliff caused by the lack of funding, and money mismanagement have all contributed to the downfall of PACE.
On Jan. 10, when everyone in PACE was told about the closing, first shock set in, then sorrow. That next day, I called the Rutland Herald and spoke to Brent Curtis. The following day, an article about PACE made the front page news. A week later, I went live on a radio talk show (WSYB) and talked about the need of PACE remaining open in our community.
I made calls to politicians in Montpelier. All I received back was just “thank you for calling and I’ll pass on the news.” To this day, I have not received any kind of reply such as a letter, telephone call, or seen another newspaper write-up regarding this matter.
Everyone knows that most politicians in our government constantly waste and throw away taxpayers’ hard-earned money on foolish and idiotic things. I understand that research and development is important for a lot of things but spending millions and billions of dollars foolishly, without brainstorming the importance and the need first, is a total waste. I believe that the health, safety and welfare of people should always come first before anything else.
Another thing to consider and to try to avoid is a job layoff at PACE. The Medicaid bus may also face a layoff due to less transportation needed by PACE participants.
How would you feel if you had a family member or friend that needed a facility like PACE, that offered daily care and attention during weekdays, and there was nothing like that available anymore in the Rutland area? This extremely serious, knock-down, domino effect will definitely have a severe impact on many lives, especially the elderly PACE participants. PACE is a vital necessity to our superior seniors in our area.
There’s a saying, “there is strength in unity.” Why can’t PACE unite with other health-related facilities? I believe that a health merger of this type would and could benefit the state of Vermont tremendously.
With due respect, I urge Gov. Peter Shumlin, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Rep. Peter Welch and every other politician in both Vermont and Washington, D.C., to come to our aid. Why not consider passing a subsidy bill for this important cause? For example, what about initiating a “Save Our Seniors” program? This could be a bill that would specialize in the need of health and safety of senior citizens.
So, I am asking you, each and every politician in the Legislature in Montpelier and in Washington, D.C., to please sit down to brainstorm positive ideas and suggestions to try your hardest to find ways to keep PACE in Vermont from closing down, by more desperately needed funding, grants and anything else that is needed.
PACE Vermont is an extremely and vitally needed health center for the community. We the people who voted you all into office, urge you to fight harder for this worthy cause for our seniors. Please give this your fullest attention as our seniors are depending on you to come to their rescue.