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By MARC LUTZ
Business Journal Editor
STOCKTON — University Park, once home to an historic state mental hospital, is the site of another historical event — the next in a long line of developments helping the area to thrive.
Silicon Valley-based WelbeHealth partnered with Sutter Health to build a 17,000-square-foot integrated health services facility, which is being designed to accommodate what’s known as the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE.
“We’re guided by a singular compass,” said Si France, CEO of WelbeHealth. “It’s a singular mission around serving the most frail, vulnerable seniors with better quality, compassion and value. We literally conceived of (Welbe) brainstorming, ‘What would be the one issue we’d most want to address?’”
The PACE model created by On Lok in San Francisco, has been in existence for 40 years. It allows home-bound seniors who qualify for nursing home care to remain at home, while still having access to the services they need.
Welbe and Sutter identified the Stockton/Modesto region as the largest area of California without a PACE facility. University Park in the Magnolia District of Stockton was determined to be the best location to build. The facility will join the ranks of California State University Stanislaus Stockton Campus, a high school and others that occupy the property.
The new, yet-to-be-named facility will house a primary care clinic, therapy gym, social area, massage, hair and nail salon, a special dementia area, administrative offices and more. There will also be a full-fleet of vehicles to offer transportation to the patients to the center and to their medical appointments. The heart of the program is an interdisciplinary team at the facility that coordinates all services customized to meet the needs of each PACE member.
“I’m truly overcome with gratitude today,” France said. “We think about the partnership we have with Sutter Health, one of the nation’s premier hospital systems — who launched one of the first PACE programs 25 years ago — and to be collaborating with Grupe in this amazing vision for University Park.”
France said the facility would be a place of “renewal and restoration for the people who need it most.”
Though they’ve only broken ground on the project, it’s estimated that the Welbe and Sutter Health building will be completed by spring of 2018. The new PACE center can open following approval from state and federal agencies.
The construction will employ hundreds of workers through sub-contractors, and the PACE program will eventually employ around 100 medical and non-medical staff when complete.
“The beauty of what we’re going to do here is to build on the PACE model of care, which delivers fully-integrated medical and social services so (patients) can remain living at home. They remain living independently,” France said.
A groundbreaking on Oct. 25 was attended by Stockton City Council members, community leaders and representatives by the stakeholders in the building project.
“We are very excited about the partnership with Welbe,” said Rishi Sikka, MD, president of system enterprises for Sutter Health. “It will be trite, but it’s true to say it’s the best of both worlds. I think combining our commitment and mission-driven focus … so that we can touch and impact even more communities and more patients than we currently serve.”
Assemblymember Susan Eggman provided the keynote message for the groundbreaking, highlighting the importance of reinvigorating the region.
“We have dreams that this area is going to be like Midtown in Sacramento, and it will be one day, but it takes a commitment from the community, it takes entrepreneurship of people coming in and seeing our potential,” Eggman said. “Because once you start caring for the people, the neighborhoods come back too.”
The overall message of the groundbreaking was one of care, community and looking after a generation that still has much to give.
“There’s so much joy and love to share, there’s so much wisdom to contribute and be gained from our elders,” France said. He went on to say that it only makes sense to make sure that seniors are cared for and feel like they still have a valuable contribution to society.