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West PACE Welcomes Azaria Taber as Center Director

Healthcare leader has personal mission to ensure quality care for North County seniors

San Marcos CA— Officials at Gary and Mary West PACE have selected Azaria Taber as their new center director for their Adult Day Health Center serving San Diego North County participants age 55+. An experienced health care administrator, Taber brings with her a passion for developing and managing quality and innovative programs coupled with a master’s degree in healthcare administration. Having served in multiple healthcare leadership roles beginning as a patient advocate, to assistant practice administrator, then center director, she has a personal mission as well.

Taber’s inspiration to work with older adults started with her family. “My mother had a cleaning company, and many of her clients began asking for different services which transitioned to more support for the senior community,” she says. Then, in April 2020, her grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s disease, passed away from Covid-19. “She had been hospitalized at two different facilities and each gave substandard care, which contributed to the deterioration of her health. I continually wonder if we could have kept her at home with us, would she still be here?” asks Taber. “The mission of a PACE program, which coordinates various services to help keep seniors in their own home perfectly aligns with my desire to ensure quality care for older adults.”

COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates PACE model of care is a way of the future

At its core, the PACE healthcare model is about keeping seniors living at home in their communities, safely. Over 90 percent of PACE participants are able to successfully remain in their homes and communities, many live longer, are more socially engaged and have a better quality of life than those in nursing homes or other institutional settings. The PACE model also reduces ER visits and hospital admissions among seniors, which was extremely critical in the early months of the pandemic. PACE participants are at one-third the risk of nursing home residents for contracting COVID-19, according to the National PACE Association (NPA).

The COVID-19 pandemic has also exposed serious gaps in our country’s caregiving infrastructure, both for childcare and elder care—a serious crisis, with 1 in 5 U.S. adults are family caregivers for an elderly, ill or disabled relative. Nearly half a million women have been forced to leave the workforce because of caregiving responsibilities for both elderly relatives and their own children.

PACE is a comprehensive health plan to fill those gaps, and keep seniors healthy, safe and independent in their own homes. PACE programs reduce hospitalizations among enrolled seniors, saving their caregivers time, money and emotional distress.

West PACE provides person-centered care for seniors, peace of mind for family caregivers

The nonprofit West PACE is an innovative nationwide model of person-centered care designed to improve the lives of seniors, particularly those who are low-income and lack extensive caregiving and healthcare resources.

“West PACE assists the coordination and care for participants among multiple services,” says Taber. “These include behavioral health, medical care, support for physical therapy and occupational therapy, home care, and more – all to ensure seniors can maintain their independence and live in their own home.”

PACE programs aim to meet participants where they are at. There is an interdisciplinary team who works with each participant on a care plan. They monitor their progress, ensuring they receive the right care to meet any challenges that arise. In addition to the medical care services, West PACE also provides meals and transportation, nutritional counseling, and social services. But perhaps the most vital component of the Gary and Mary West PACE Adult Day Health Center is social engagement.

West PACE participants can take part in numerous activities including a variety of games, group and individual physical therapy, music, entertainment programs, attend to healthcare needs at the onsite medical clinic, enjoy a hot meal, and even partake of beauty services in the salon – all in a modern, beautiful facility that rivals many luxury hotels. Most importantly, it provides the vital social interaction that all humans need to combat the effects of social isolation.

“A PACE program is the best fit for my skills, interest, and passion,” says Taber. “Previously, I had worked in various healthcare roles – from pediatrics to cardiology and internal medicine. The impact of a PACE program is by far the most rewarding. To see the positive impact on the lives of others, there’s nothing like it.”

Taber is a resident of Vista, Calif., and holds an MBA in Healthcare Administration and Management from St. Joseph’s College in New York.

About Gary and Mary West PACE

Established with a grant from the Gary and Mary West Foundation, West PACE is a program providing all the care and services for older adults and people over age 55 who live in North County San Diego and meet state requirements for nursing home level of care as covered by Medicare and Medi-Cal and as authorized by the interdisciplinary team. If participants are enrolled in Medicare and Medi-Cal, they will pay nothing, or they will pay their Medi-Cal “share of cost.” The program also accepts people enrolled only in Medi-Cal and people who want to pay privately. To apply or learn more about eligibility, contact Gary and Mary West PACE at (760) 280-2230 or visit their website at www.westpace.org.

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