For more than 30 years, the National Pace Association (NPA) has viewed the month of September to celebrate the Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) in which allows those that are eligible to still live in the community for as long as they are able. So far, the company has kept more than 95% of its residents out of nursing homes and happily living in what feels like the comfort of their own home.

For September 2020, the motto of PACE is "your care, your community, your home." Which proudly, and briefly, signifies the hard work, patience, and effort, the PACE organization has put into this program and its residents because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our model of care is trying to keep those people in their own homes as long as possible and living independently and so we just have been trying to make a few changes and trying to do a few more things more virtually but residents are still getting the care that they need," Janna Ness, the marketing director of Northland PACE said.

Ness explained workers are continuing to check-in on their residents at their home and help them with whatever assistance they may need. Whatever is in the guest's plan, whether assistance with medicine, or helping clean their house, the workers will take care of it, but are always making decisions and actions that safely help the resident and are watchful with COVID-19.

"It’s a step-by-step process," she said. "Making sure that we have access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) … figuring out how to make that PPE last as long as possible, figuring out schedules for nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) and staff to visit these individuals, and do so keeping with the North Dakota Department of Health regulations.

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"It’s just been a lot of homework, a lot of seeing what health regulations are and just making sure we’re following all of those health protocols and doing what’s best for these people," Ness added. "But when you work with the elderly, you just have a different mindset and knowing that they can be so dependent on others. At this point in their lives and knowing that you’re helping them continue their day-to-day lives I think is just motivation for the staff and it’s easier to put your own fears kind of on the back burner."

While Ness admitted it has been stressful due to the seemingly never-ending adjustments that have to be made during the pandemic, it's the love and care for those in need that help continue to motivate PACE to become better and stronger each day, each month, and each year.

"It’s just heartwarming to know that our participants know that we are here for them," she said. "A lot of them have family members out of state that we are in contact with them and act as an organization with their family members. We’re trying to keep communication open and being transparent and doing everything that we can to just make everyone feel safe and taken care of."

Currently, there are three Northland PACE locations in North Dakota: Dickinson, Bismarck and Minot. Ness, who works out of Bismarck, credits Dickinson and Minot for their efforts in not only knowing and caring for the individual, but their families as well.

"The direct sites, they know their participants, they know any anxieties and they know the family members and it’s just a lot of personalized care and that goes a long way," she said.

PACE continues to be operational today and is welcoming newcomers at any time. In Dickinson, there is a video tour of the Northland PACE Dickinson location on the NorthlandPACE youtube page.

"We’re trying to make adjustments to if we can still have people in the center by appointment," Ness said. "Those that still need to come in for certain cares, our nurses and stuff, they’re working towards bringing them in … still fully operational we just pivoted in some of the items as far as trying to video tours if that works for somebody, if not, then by appointment. It just totally depends on the situation. Still fully functional, still operational."

For more information, specifically on the Dickinson location, contact 701-456-7387.