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Program rolls to keeps elderly out of nursing homes

Heart transplant survivor Peggy Watson, 71, needs a lift to CarePartners PACE in South Asheville, where she receives information, monitoring and therapy. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Heart transplant survivor Peggy Watson, 71, needs a lift to CarePartners PACE in South Asheville, where she receives information, monitoring and therapy.

"Transportation is actually a huge barrier to folks in receiving their healthcare," said David Beijer, executive director of the program. "One of the advantages of PACE is that we're able to transport folks to and from their home."

"Could I come without it?" asked Watson, who relies on oxygen and a wheelchair. "No, my husband couldn't haul this chair in our car."

A van stops at the center every few minutes, not only dropping off participants for the PACE program but also shuttling them to doctors' visits.

But, what if this program wasn't available?

"Many of our frail elders would end up in skilled nursing facilities," Beijer replied.

"I don't want to be away from my husband," Watson insisted. "I don't want the thoughts of going into a nursing home."

Instead, she finds the opportunity to socialize and enjoy entertainment between appointments.

Ultimately, this all-inclusive program for the elderly is keeping her happy and as independent as possible while reducing her health care costs.

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