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UC Berkeley Study Reveals WelbeHealth’s Rapid Adaptation To COVID-19 Eldercare Yielded Exceptional Results And Saved Lives

As policy momentum grows toward home and community-based services, study recommends that policy choices focus on the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), and it’s 45-year track record of success in serving the most complex elderly patients.

SILICON VALLEY, Calif., July 14, 2021 — A new study from UC Berkeley’s Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy (BRIE) features WelbeHealth in a case study illustrating how this California eldercare PACE provider responded early and decisively to the COVID-19 crisis with exceptional results.

“By rapidly transforming its care model, WelbeHealth had exceptional results: as COVID-19 cases rose across the country — and in particular within nursing home populations — WelbeHealth did not have a single COVID-19 death during the first 8 months of the pandemic. The first WelbeHealth loss from COVID-19 occurred on November 21, 2020 and 10 WelbeHealth participants died of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.”

-UC Berkeley

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Welbehealth: Case Study of Adapting PACE Under COVID-19

Key findings:

  • WelbeHealth and the PACE community overall had lower death rates than nursing homes; the national PACE COVID-19 death rate was 3.8%, nearly one-third the 11.8% death rate in nursing homes. WelbeHealth calculated a death rate of 2.4%.
  • WelbeHealth acted early and decisively to minimize exposure with an Incident Command response strategy, dispersing tablets for telehealth visits, PPE, thermometers, food, medication, and other essentials into participants’ homes, and providing nearly all care remotely, which proved effective.
  • PACE’s capitated payment model moves the risk from payor to care provider, aligning incentives and encouraging innovation and efficiency in keeping patients well.
  • Technology provided an important amplification to PACE’s model of care — it allowed for regular check-ins and informed decision-making on care needs. However, the social aspect of the PACE day center cannot be replaced by technology, and it is clear that in-person visits are vital.
  • With America’s senior citizen population set to double by 2040, the demand for long-term care will skyrocket. The pandemic underscored that work must begin now to meet the needs of present and future vulnerable elders.
  • Existing home and community-based services (HCBS) such as PACE demonstrated profound success during the pandemic leading to fresh momentum among policymakers to expand these options further.

PACE’s person-to-person, fully integrated approach maintains the participant’s highest level of independence and quality of life[i]; PACE participants experience an 80% drop in rates of depression after joining.[ii] At a time when America is searching for a better way forward in eldercare, PACE is a proven approach for this vulnerable group.

 

“While PACE has a 45-year track record of success, it remains optional in Medicaid while nursing home benefits are required — it’s time for every vulnerable elder in the country to have access to this gold standard of long-term care,” said Elizabeth Carty, Chief Regulatory Affairs Officer of WelbeHealth.

 

Many PACE participants reside in medically underserved areas like San Joaquin County, California, where WelbeHealth’s creative problem-solving and speed to action kept seniors safe in their homes when resources for the elderly were relatively scarce.

 

“As other healthcare organizations were assessing the potential impact and spread of the pandemic, the WelbeHealth team had already taken its crisis response to the next level, ” said Amy Shin, former CEO of Health Plan of San Joaquin. “I was impressed with how nimbly this team charted out a plan not only to keep seniors safe and vaccinated but to vaccinate the community as well. This study’s findings should alert legislators that this style of home and community-based services is the ideal model of care for frail seniors.”

 

What is PACE?
PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) serves low-income seniors who meet their state requirement for nursing home level care allowing them to live independently in their own homes and communities while receiving fully coordinated medical and dental care, physical and occupational therapy, transportation, meals, day programs, home care assistance and more, managed by an 11-person integrated care team. The “one-stop-shop” PACE day centers are the hub of the program, offering seniors a pleasant place to receive care, socialize and enjoy meals within a state-of-the-art facility.

About WelbeHealth
WelbeHealth is a physician-led healthcare organization that provides seniors with high-quality, compassionate care so they can live in their own homes and communities rather than a nursing home. To accomplish this, WelbeHealth uses the PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) model. WelbeHealth currently operates four programs in the Stockton/Modesto, Pasadena/Burbank, Long Beach, and Fresno communities of California.


[i] Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation, “Care That Works: Program for All-inclusive Care for the Elderly.” https://www.healthinnovation.org/resources/publications/care-that-works-pace

[ii] National PACE Association, “COVID Data Demonstrates That the PACE Model Is Safer Than Nursing Home Care.” https://www.npaonline.org/about-npa/press-releases/covid-data-demonstrates-pace-model-safer-nursing-home-care

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KSEE 24: WelbeHealth PACE in Fresno vaccinates 500th person against COVID-19

Home-based eldercare startup acts as community vaccinator to protect locals.

March 18, 2021 (KSEE) – The team at WelbeHealth PACE in Fresno celebrated on Thursday as they administered the 500th COVID-19 vaccine to a member of the Fresno community. 

“I feel good, I feel great. The staff is great too… I will recommend it to anybody,” said Samuel Sousa, their 500th person to be vaccinated.

“We sit kind of in the heart of a lot of the underserved population when it comes to the senior population, so we’re a perfect location for them to come in.”

WelbeHealth has worked hard to reach out to the public by vaccinating communities in all 4 of its locations, frequently offering to help people reach the site. It was among the first PACE operators in the nation to receive COVID-19 vaccines in 2020.

“We’re unique in the sense that we provide transportation. So anybody that is 55 years and older that isn’t able to get a vaccination, they can actually call us, and we’ll go pick them up,” said Nicole Butler, Director of Center Operations for WelbeHealth.

WelbeHealth partnered with Fresno County to serve as a community vaccination site at the start of 2021, with appointments filling up and long lines forming as people waited patiently for the jab.

“And we sit kind of in the heart of a lot of the underserved population when it comes to the senior population, so we’re a perfect location for them to come in,” said Butler.

 

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PACE Brings the Senior Daycare Center Home

The Pasadena Now published an article on the changes that WelbeHealth and Pacific PACE have made to continue to deliver health and wellness services to nursing home eligible seniors in the safety of their own home:

If there is one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it’s that just about everything, except going somewhere, can be done at home. This has naturally had a huge effect on businesses, retail, and now, senior care.

At the outset of the COVID 19 crisis, and in response to the state’s “shelter at home” order, WelbeHealth in Pasadena transitioned from a central Pasadena location to a remote at-home care model to serve seniors, while keeping them physically shielded from the spread of the virus.

As explained on their website, PACE (The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) individually coordinates the care of each participant enrolled in the program, based on his or her needs with the goal of enabling them to remain living in their community. PACE is both a primary care provider and a health insurer. Currently, there are more than 240 PACE centers operating in more than 30 states.

“We had a day center where we wanted to prevent nursing home placement,” Regional VP & Pacific PACE Executive Director Sophia Guel-Valenzuela, explained Thursday. “We wanted to prevent trips to urgent care, or to the emergency room. We wanted to prevent people from isolation and loneliness.”

“So we bring them to our daycare center in Pasadena,” she continued. “We have activities, we have music therapy, we have recreation, we give them lunch. We have so many things to do, so many interactive, stimulating activities.”

But when the executive order came out for “shelter in place,” Pacific PACE suddenly had to support its participants in the home.

“So we basically implemented HomePACE,” said Guel-Valenzuela. “We transitioned to a HomePACE model where we are communicating with our participants with a Welbe Link. It’s a 4G LTE tablet.”

The simple-to-use tablet has become the key to instant communication between caregivers and patients, Guel-Valenzuela explained.

“We’re having video calls with our patients. And so we do recreation therapy. We have virtual bingo with them,” said Guel-Valenzuela. “They talk to their doctor, their social worker. Our personal care attendants have social calls with the patients. And so we’re supporting them as if they were in the center, but they’re out there at their home.”

The system organizes meal delivery as well, so patients don’t have to go out and be exposed unnecessarily to the grocery store or the pharmacy.

Pacific PACE Home also delivers all their medications to their home, and helps them with essentials like toothpaste and toilet paper.

‘We’re coordinating everything that they need to be safe,” Guel- Valenzuela pointed out. PACE also offers home care services, such as light housekeeping, and help with bathing and dressing.

Perhaps most importantly, though, the rate of confirmed COVID positive cases in PACE programs nationally is just 2.2%.

As Guel-Valenzuela noted, “Our care team is conducting daily phone calls for COVID-19 signs and symptoms among nearly 95 participants. We have not had any positive cases of COVID19, nor any hospitalizations related to COVID-19. We are equipped with appropriate PPE to serve our participants, and are literally saving lives through our HomePACE model of care.”

Following the success of the Pasadena program, WelbeHealth PACE plans a new operation in Long Beach on June 1.

For more about the services that PACE provides seniors so they can live more independently in their homes and communities, click here.

Remote Home Care Model Aims to Protect Seniors

WelbeHealth and our PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly ) centers was recently profiled in the Escalon Times on how we met the COVID-19 crisis head on, quickly making changes to our program model so that we could deliver our senior care services such as medical appointments and meals to our participants’ homes, instead of our centers.  We also equipped our participants with WelbeLink tablets so that medical and rehab appointments could be done remotely and to help our seniors combat isolation.  Read about our changes to deliver nursing home level of care to our participants.

Remote Home Care Model Aims to Protect Seniors 

To learn more about our other PACE services, click here.

ID 173704786 © Sirinarth Mekvorawuth | Dreamstime.com

WelbeHealth Sierra Shifts to Remote Home Care Model – Latino Times

WelbeHealth and our PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly ) centers was received additional coverage from the Latino Times on how we met the COVID-19 crisis head on, quickly making changes to our program model so that we could deliver our senior care services such as medical appointments and meals to our participants’ homes, instead of our centers.  We also equipped our participants with WelbeLink tablets so that medical and rehab appointments could be done remotely and to help our seniors combat isolation.  Read about our changes to deliver nursing home level of care to our participants here.

To learn more about PACE services, click here.

Stockton PACE Shifts to Remote Home Care Model – Latino Times

WelbeHealth and our PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly ) centers was received additional coverage from the Latino Times on how we met the COVID-19 crisis head on, quickly making changes to our program model so that we could deliver our senior care services such as medical appointments and meals to our participants’ homes, instead of our centers.  We also equipped our participants with WelbeLink tablets so that medical and rehab appointments could be done remotely and to help our seniors combat isolation.  Read about our changes to deliver nursing home level of care to our participants here.

To learn more about PACE services, click here.

“Changes to PACE Programs” WelbeHealth

MENLO PARK, CA (March 27, 2020)—WelbeHealth, operator of three PACE programs across California, has made major adjustments to its clinical and operational model to protect the health and well-being of its participants in the face of the rapidly escalating COVID-19 pandemic, including a shift to remote and home care for its vulnerable population of seniors. 

PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) is a longstanding Medicare and Medicaid program that provides comprehensive medical and social services enabling older adults to live in the community instead of a nursing home or other care facility. Since 2019, WelbeHealth has become one of the fastest-growing PACE operators in the U.S., opening Stockton PACE in greater Stockton-Modesto, Pacific PACE in the PasadenaGlendale-Burbank region, and LA Coast PACE in the greater Long Beach area. 

Welbe has been prepared to operate during a pandemic since long before the emergence of COVID-19. The company’s leadership and clinical teams have worked extensively in recent weeks to implement their emergency preparedness program, including launching their Pandemic Incident Response Systems. These systems include a well-defined chain of command and pandemic-specific roles and responsibilities, ensuring clear communication and enabling continued high quality of care for PACE participants. 

In the traditional PACE model, most participants visit a day center two or three times per week. With the emergence of coronavirus, Welbe’s PACE programs have made major changes to protect the health of vulnerable seniors. Since March 16, participants have been receiving nearly all their care remotely, at home. In addition to medical care, the programs also continue to provide essential services to seniors based on individual needs, including food preparation and delivery, medication delivery, and personal hygiene assistance. 

 “I’m extremely proud of our team’s creativity and devotion in ensuring that our seniors continue to receive exceptional care 24/7,” said the President of WelbeHealth, Matt Patterson, MD. 

To support home-based care for participants, Welbe has deployed over 200 4G LTE “WelbeLink” tablets with hardware and software specifically designed for use by seniors. Welbe’s care teams use the tablets to maintain regular video communications with participants in the home, making hundreds of calls per day to manage seniors’ medical needs and concerns and complete social and behavioral health check-ins. The tablets also provide games and entertainment for seniors to enjoy throughout the day. 

With around-the-clock support from leadership and the tremendous efforts of clinical team members, Welbe has been able to make the shift to remote care very rapidly. At Stockton PACE, the team assembled and delivered protective equipment and supply kits to all employees, set up and delivered hundreds of WelbeLink tablets and thermometers to all participants, and identified needs and delivered food and supplies to seniors’ homes — all in a matter of days. At Pacific PACE, one new participant reflected, “Pacific PACE isn’t just a change in doctor or health; it’s a change of life for me. I’m extremely grateful for everyone making this possible.” 

In addition to shifting to remote care, the company has taken numerous other steps to protect participants and caregivers during the pandemic. Since March 16, all team members have been mandated to shelter in place and work from home unless otherwise assigned by the emergency response team. WelbeHealth is also working closely with local, state, and federal health officials to ensure appropriate resources are available to care for participants, including being prepared to test participants and caregivers for COVID-19 when appropriate. 

“My colleagues and I chose to work in healthcare out of a sense of calling — a desire to serve and contribute when it matters most,” wrote the CEO of WelbeHealth, Si France, MD in a letter to participants and families. “I assure you that our team will continue to make every effort to do the right thing and protect our seniors during this critical time.” 

 

About WelbeHealth 

At WelbeHealth, our mission is to unlock the full potential of our most vulnerable seniors with empathy and love. We do it through PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), a comprehensive medical and social care model with a decades-long track record of improved quality of life, life expectancy, and personal empowerment for frail seniors. As part of our PACE programs, most participants are able to live safely and independently in their own homes and communities rather than receive care in a nursing home. WelbeHealth operates three PACE programs across California, with plans for additional expansion in underserved communities. For more information, please visit welbehealth.com.

To learn more about our PACE services, click here.

We are WelbeHealth

At WelbeHealth, our mission is to unlock the full potential of our most vulnerable seniors with empathy and love. We do it through PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), a comprehensive medical and social care model with a decades-long track record of improved quality of life, life expectancy, and personal empowerment for frail seniors. As part of our PACE programs, most participants are able to live safely and independently in their own homes and communities rather than receive care in a nursing home. For more information, please visit welbehealth.com.

We are WelbeHealth Video

To learn more about PACE services, click here.