New EBNHC PACE program location takes next step

By Michael Coughlin Jr.

Following the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center’s (EBNHC) second presentation to the Gove Street Citizens Association (GSCA) on Monday, Mar. 27, residents voted in favor of a proposal that would renovate an EBNHC-owned building at 151 Orleans Street to create a new PACE program location. 

The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) – as described by the EBNHC website – provides comprehensive care and support to the elderly and is the “ideal solution for those who want an alternative to nursing home care for the right combination of medical, social, recreation, rehabilitation, home care, and other services.”

Julia Makayova, EBNHC’s Legal Counsel, described the program more, saying, “We provide all services that are covered under Medicare and MassHealth … under the program, we would provide comprehensive medical, all types of clinical services, social services including food and meal support as well as just daily recreational activities and wellness care.”

According to Makayova, the EBNHC currently serves around 800 people with its senior care programming – a majority from East Boston. The center’s senior programming also supports seniors in other communities, such as Revere, Chelsea, and Winthrop.

Initially, a few years ago, there were plans to sell this property along with its parking lots. However, due to some state and federal funding, the EBNHC now has the opportunity to forgo selling the parcels to expand its support of seniors in the community.

As part of the proposal, which was supported by the GSCA by a vote of 8-0, the 9,700 square foot single-story part of the site at 151 Orleans Street would be renovated to add things like exams rooms and other amenities to support those who are part of the PACE program.

There are no exterior renovations to the building planned, and all parking would be supported by the two lots that exist across from and next to the building.

“They [PACE patients] will be able to come and get clinical care and then socialize – but they will have to be members of our PACE program to start,” said Makayova.

These plans would convert the site’s current use, which has been used for administrative purposes such as the center’s Informational Technology (IT) and Finance Departments. While serving as an administrative building, it has not been open to patients.

“So really, it’s [the 151 Orleans Street site] been underutilized. Especially now during COVID, a lot of folks have gone on partial remote work, so it’s kind of a loss for the community as well that it just stands there sort of empty,” said Makayova.

For comparison, Makayova showed photos of the senior care center in Revere – which serves around 450 participants – a number she said the center is planning to accommodate at the proposed 151 Orleans Street site.

Although, as it stands currently, the site would only serve those who are part of the PACE program – there could be plans in the future to expand the use of the potential senior center to those outside of the program.

“The most immediate plan is to bring the PACE program, but we hope that with expanded clinical uses down the road, we might open up our clinical offerings to geriatric populations – meaning we’ll be able to provide primary care, maybe specialty care to I mean, just anyone who comes to get care with us from that site,” said Makayova. 

Overall, as the EBNHC moves forward with plans, it looks like East Boston residents in the PACE program could have a new site to get their care sometime in the future.

“We love this program. We are observing a growing demand for older folks in the community, so definitely would love to expand access,” said Makayova.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *