UMRC celebrates grand opening of Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Day Center, Huron Valley PACE Expansion

By Seth Kinker,

On Apr. 15 the United Methodist Retirement Communities (UMRC) hosted a grand opening of the expansion of the Huron Valley Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) center at 2940 Ellsworth Road in Ypsilanti that doubled as a fifth-year celebration of the whole center being built. 

This center serves five southeastern Michigan counties and helps low-income older adults, aged 55 and older, who are eligible for nursing home care but are able to live in their homes and communities with the help of PACE services. 

The grand opening unveiled the brand new 20,000 sq. ft. addition, named after the foundation that contributed $1 million from a capital grant, that doubles the size and capacity, from 180 to 360 participants of the Huron Valley PACE Day Health Center. 

“They love PACE and are very interested in expanding and growing the services of PACE in areas like this,” said Wendy Brightman, President of the UMRC Foundation which also donated $500,000 to the expansion, of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. “They’ve supported other PACE programs throughout the nation. For things like this, when you have organizations like the Weinberg foundation, it’s a major blessing for us.”

This addition had been planned since 2016, when Huron Valley PACE began to outgrow the current building. It’s been a process and under construction for more than a year, with input from the participating members and the multidisciplinary team at Huron Valley PACE to design a space catered to the particular needs of  older adults.

“It’s fantastic,” said Tina Berry, Enrollment Manager for Huron Valley PACE, of the new space. “One of the things that is really special about it is the dementia care space. There’s a whole space designed particularly for patients with memory loss. It’s really important when providing care for people with memory loss, especially late stage memory loss, to have a quiet tranquil space because stimulation can be very overwhelming. You need it to have lots of natural light, the ability to access outside for it to feel like home, but it needs to be secure.”

In addition to the specially designed space for memory loss care, which accounts for more than half the patients Huron Valley PACE cares for, there is a glass patio as well as a covered deck. 

“If you’re an older adult, not only are you coming to the day center,” said Berry. “Your doctor’s office is here, your medicine, you can see your therapist. There’s transportation. Everything’s in one place, our building now better facilitates that. It makes me proud.” 

From left to right: Dr. Terri Mack (Medical Director of Huron Valley PACE), Patricia Lang (a participant at Huron Valley PACE Day Health Center), Debbie Dingell (U.S. Congresswoman – 12thDistrict), Sonja Love Felton (Executive Director of Huron Valley PACE), Brenda Stumbo (Ypsilanti Township Supervisor) and Ronnie Peterson (Michigan Representative -54thdistrict) cut the ribbon on Apr. 15.

In addition to the unveiling of the new expansion, there was a ribbon cutting with speakers and dignitaries that included Dr. Terri Mack (Medical Director of Huron Valley PACE), Sonja Love Felton (Executive Director of Huron Valley PACE), Steve Fetyko (Interim CEO of UMRC and Porter Hills), Kate Collins (Chief Project Development Officer of UMRC and Porter Hills), Debbie Dingell (U.S. Congresswoman – 12thDistrict), Ronnie Peterson (Michigan Representative – 54thdistrict), and Patricia Lang (a participant at Huron Valley PACE Day Health Center). 

Mack and Love Felton gave opening remarks, thanking those in attendance for coming. Fetyko, thanked the Weinberg and UMRC foundations for investing for those they care for, the partners who made the physical building possible, and the Huron Valley PACE team members. Collins thanked the engineering, architecture, and contractors on hand. 

“I love PACE,” said Dingell. “10,000 people are turning 65 every day. We got a real crisis in this country. I sort of began to live that crisis four years ago. You hear the words Medicare, Medicaid, but you don’t understand with Medicare you better only be sick for 90 days, then no one cares. How are you gonna pay for long term care? PACE is a program that lets people age in place. PACE is a place that gives people a community. PACE is a place that takes care of everything, we need to build more PACES to take care of people.” 

Peterson thanked the Huron Valley PACE staff and board of directors, the UMRC foundation for helping make everything possible, as well as Brenda Stumbo, Ypsilanti Township Supervisor, keeping the building off the tax roll. 

Lang, who has come to the Huron Valley PACE Day Health Center, told the assembled crowd of the great care she receives at the center and the relationships she had built. 

“I’m always happy on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” said Lang. “This is my other family.” 

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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