The Suncoast PACE Center is located at 6770 102nd Ave. N. in Pinellas Park.
PINELLAS PARK – Tucked away in Pinellas Park, for the past two years Suncoast PACE has offered seniors an alternative to moving into a nursing home as their health declines.
Designed for individuals 55 and older, this adult day care program offers a variety of classes and activities to keep attendees mentally and physically engaged despite any health issues they might have. Activities include everything from music and the arts to discussions of current events to fitness and games.
“We do everything to keep them out of institutionalized care,” said Stephanie Sessions, executive director at PACE. “Our goal is to keep them in action, keep them healthy.”
Available to those on Medicaid and some on Medicare, PACE is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. until about 5 p.m. Members of the program can come as many or as few times a week as they’d like.
Studies show that lonely seniors have a 14 percent higher death rate than those who are not, which is why PACE’s program is so important, Sessions said.
But it’s so much more than simply a social outlet, she stressed.
PACE has an onsite, full medical clinic, so participants can receive all of their medical care, including physical therapy, at the facility.
“There’s always access to nurses and physicians,” Sessions said.
Staff also assists participants with laundry, shopping, transportation and even personal hygiene, if necessary, and also will send help into members’ homes on their days off from the program as needed.
Currently, there are about 160 seniors in the program, which has the capacity for around 200, Sessions said.
For those who attend, the program is a lifesaver.
“They do so many good things here,” said Gary Grimm, who joined the program after learning about it from a friend. “And the medical staff is phenomenal.”
“It is absolutely wonderful,” said Laurie Maccorquadale, who knew PACE would be a great fit for her before she ever walked through the door. “I don’t like the weekends because they’re not open and I just sit at home and watch TV all day. … PACE saved my life; it saved my sanity.”