PACE North to expand, director to retire

TRAVERSE CITY — PACE North was selected by the plan’s national association for an enrollment expansion program, officials said.

The announcement comes as the organization is advertising for 10 open positions, including the head of the program, after Executive Director Sherrie Moseler announced her retirement on Friday.

“In my resignation I have told Grand Traverse Pavilions that I will stay on until another good fit for the post is found,” Moseler said. “That may mean three months, that may mean six months. My work here has been very important to me — this program is such an incredible asset to the community.”

PACE — Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly — was founded in California more than 40 years ago as a not-for-profit eldercare organization seeking to keep seniors with medical needs well cared for in their own homes, rather than in nursing homes.

Participants sign over Medicaid benefits to PACE and the program delivers necessary care, records show.

PACE North, one of 14 such programs in Michigan and 138 nationwide, opened in 2019 following a fundraising campaign organized by Grand Traverse Pavilions, a local county-owned nursing home which continues to function as the organization’s sponsor. The medical and social services healthcare plan for seniors runs a clinic and a day use center on Garfield Road.

The organization has dealt with staffing issues since its inception — Moseler is the second executive director, former Medical Director Dr. Mark Jackson left the position last year, replaced by Dr. Mark Byland, for example.

John Jacobs, previously the financial management director at Grand Traverse Pavilions, is PACE North’s finance director and Leslie Etienne, PACE North human resources director, served as human resources director at Grand Traverse Pavilions for 20 years prior to relocating to PACE North, records show.

Gordie La Pointe, a member of the Department of Health and Human Services Board, which appoints the PACE board and oversees operations at Grand Traverse Pavilions, said such frequent changes in top management give him pause.

“When you get turnover at the top level, it is concerning,” La Pointe said. “I consider this organization to still be in its incubation stage. You need some stability in terms of tenure at the senior level. Although, in this economy a lot of organizations are facing the same issue.”

Moseler said she’s retiring to spend more time with her husband, who is also retired, and with her grandchildren.

Most of the other advertised positions are new, Moseler said, and reflect planned growth in the number of participants who she said are expected to enroll in PACE North in the coming months.

Those advertised positions include enrollment coordinator, RN care manager, LPN care manager, as well as clinic nurses, bus drivers and center and home healthcare aides.

Stephanie Winslow, executive director of PACE Association of Michigan, said PACE North was one of five programs in the state selected to participate in PACE 2.0, the growth acceleration plan developed nationally and expected to begin March 18.

“We are seeing the risk of infection from COVID-19 among our participants nationally, be about one third that of those who live in nursing homes,” Winslow said. “In part because of that statistic, PACE is poised and gearing up for growth.”

Data collected by the organization shows a quick switch to home health care from center-based care, and extensive use of telehealth, facilitated social distancing and dramatically slowed infection and death rates, said national PACE spokesperson Robert Greenwood.

“One of the biggest barriers to growth nationally, and in Traverse City, is the public understanding what we do,” Greenwood said.

Such confusion was evident among Grand Traverse County Commissioners last year when a contract between PACE North and a county department was up for renewal and most commissioners required an explanation of the plan prior to voting to let the contract expire.

“That contract was with the Commission on Aging and they did not have the staff to provide the services and that’s why that contract needed to be canceled,” said PACE North Executive Director Sherrie Moseler. “With over 100 different providers in the area, and several home care providers, that was just one small contract.”

In August, Moseler told county board members PACE North had 45 participants enrolled, adding the number was expected to increase.

On Wednesday Moseler said total enrollment had increased dramatically to 76, a figure that surprised La Pointe.

A press release issued when the program was founded said total enrollment was expected to be 140.

La Pointe, a former Grand Traverse County Commissioner, was appointed to the DHHS board last year.

He expressed surprise to learn PACE North does not regularly report to the DHHS board with an update on enrollment numbers and financial information — something he’d like to see changed.

“I asked that they talk to us quarterly and give us an update,” La Pointe said. “I think its appropriate that the DHHS board is kept abreast of the PACE organization, at least in terms of the financials.”

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