Program assists seniors facing steep healthcare costs

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OKLAHOMA CITY - After years of debate, the cost of health care remains a difficult topic. The fact is many people don’t have enough money to get the help they need.

But there is a program in our community that’s delivering results while helping get at-risk seniors access to care, whether they have the money to pay for it or not.

It’s called Valir Pace, and it’s bridging the gap for seniors facing healthcare costs that are far from reasonable.

For 81-year-old Dorothy Sumpter, the cost of transportation alone to her dialysis appointments ran $840 a month.

Dorothy’s caregiver, Mary Guy, says the expense didn’t stop there.

“In addition to paying transportation for that,” Mary explained, “I had to pay extra money to go to the dentist. Extra money to go to the podiatrist. Extra money to go to her primary care physician.”

When the final bill came in, it was so much Dorothy didn’t have the money to make ends meet.

It forced Dorothy and Mary to choose between things like eating or getting access to healthcare.

Without Valir Pace, the future looked bleak for both Dorothy and Mary, who herself is 79-years-old.

“I am sad to say I would probably have to go into a nursing home,” Mary said. “Dorothy and I together, and I would not like that.”

Valir Pace uses money normally given to Medicare, but works to be far more efficient to get seniors the healthcare they must have to stay alive.

“We’re getting the physical therapy, the occupational therapy and when we come in, they check our vital signs,” Mary said.

The amazing thing is the cost for all of this care comes out to be far lower than what Medicare would normally pay for a senior to be in a nursing home.

Dorothy was once in a home herself and the results weren’t good.

“When I got her out of a nursing facility here, she had a bed sore on the omni coccyx and also on her heel,” Mary explained. She’s worked in the healthcare industry herself since 1957.

“And I was glad to get her out of there. And she had c-diff of all things,” Mary continued.

Under Valir Pace, the health outcomes for patients across the board have been amazing.

“26% is the average hospitalization rate that a patient like the Sumpters would experience,” Brandy Baily, a vice president at Valir Place explained. “The hospitalization rate for participants that are engaged in the Valir Pace program is 3 percent.”

For Dorothy, having better health is a relief, and she’s stayed out of the hospital now for two years!

But taking the financial load off her shoulders means Dorothy and Mary can actually breathe a bit and have money left for necessities, like food.

“I have enough money now to be able to prepare the kind of meals that I enjoy and that Dorothy enjoys,” Mary said.

Good health and good nutrition are helping lift Dorothy out of the doldrums.

She had a stroke not too long ago, but despite the trials and tribulations she’s faced, now she’s looking toward the future.

“I’m hoping that they can help me learn to walk again,” Dorothy said. “I use to walk. I used to dance. I used to run. I miss all those things.”

Seniors who qualify for nursing home assistance under Medicare can often qualify for Valir Pace programs instead.

For more information on how to enroll, visit www.valirpace.org.

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