IMPERIAL – A new medical facility which will specialize in senior care broke ground here on Thursday, December 7, promising firsts for the City of Imperial, less outside travel for senior care, and more health care jobs available in the Imperial Valley.
The $36-million facility is touted as what will be the “Imperial Valley’s first” Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, or “PACE” Center, a 55,000 square foot facility which “will transform the region’s healthcare landscape by introducing cutting-edge services in an environmentally sustainable facility,” according to a press release from Reliance Public Relations on behalf of the developer, Gafcon, Inc. The 24-acre site is located at the corner of Neckel Road and Highway 86 in Imperial near what will be the Cambria Hotel.
“PACE Centers serve vulnerable seniors with chronic care needs who want to age in place rather than in a nursing home,” the release reads. “PACE centers provide physicians, social workers, nurses, nutritionists, and physical and occupational therapists.”
“Key features of the Innercare project include a state-of-the-art healthcare clinic designed to offer a wide range of outpatient services, encompassing primary care, dental services, laboratory facilities and radiology services, among others,” it reads. “Specific services for seniors will be daycare, nursing care, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.”
The facility will be able to accommodate over 200 vehicles, with special provisions for accessibility and electric vehicle charging stations, per a separate Innercare press release. Most of the participants who utilized PACE Centers are dually eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.
“Additionally, a clinic within the facility will provide high quality, affordable healthcare services for all, including adult care, dental services, laboratory services, behavioral health, immunizations, and much more,” the release reads.
“Our new PACE Center in the City of Imperial will meet the growing need for specially designed services that allow seniors to thrive in their communities while lowering costs compared to traditional institutional care,” Innercare President and CEO Yvonne Bell said in a press release.
“When this health care center opens in 2025, it will serve approximately 500 patients per day and have more than 150 employees,” Gafcon Senior Vice President & General Counsel, Paul Najar, said at the groundbreaking event.
Najar said the groundbreaking represents “a number of firsts” in the Valley including the first PACE center to enable seniors “to remain independent in their homes for as long as possible,” a first “comprehensive health care clinic in the City of Imperial,” and the first “full-service pharmacy in Imperial, “as well as it being the first time that North American Development Bank has financed a health care development” locally.
“The most important thing is that the facility is designed so that seniors can stay in their home and still get all the medical treatment they need – dentistry, behavioral health, full primary care services, physical therapy – so that’s what this facility is really designed to achieve,” Najar told IVP.
Najar said the facility will provide transportation for seniors from their home, to the PACE Center and back, which will help curtail the need for local families to find specialized senior care outside of the Imperial Valley.
“Seniors will be picked up at their home, provided with breakfast and lunch, and at the end of the day they’re delivered back to their home through transit,” Najar said. “They can come any time, once a week or five times a week, whatever works best for them.”
Victor Nava, Gafcon’s Director of Strategy, Development & Partnerships and Imperial Valley resident, agreed, saying being able to provide transportation for the seniors is crucial.
“To be able to go out and reach the seniors in the most rural areas – Niland, West Shores, etcetera – and bring them here for their care and take them back home is important because there’s been studies that show that (seniors) that live at home live longer,” Nava said, “so this (groundbreaking) is very impactful for those reasons, and I think it won’t be the last PACE Center.”
Nava said the PACE Center will be a “one stop shop” for senior health care with the future building’s three components being housed under one roof: the adult PACE Center, a pharmacy and a clinic.
Nava pointed out that Innercare also takes on private clients and not just low-to-moderate income patients, “so this project will show that it’s for everyone.”
“And it’s not only senior care but it also have health care for all ages – it’s a combined facility so it’s really unique,” Najar said. “You don’t have to be an Innercare patient to go to the pharmacy; you can go buy whatever you need at that pharmacy.”
Nava said the 150 to 170 local, high paying permanent jobs will impact not only the current job market but educational studies in the Imperial Valley.
“When the hospitals were going through issues, SDSU and IVC students were backing out of their (health sciences) majors because they were like, ‘There is no opportunity for me so I have to go somewhere else,’” Nava said. “This (PACE Center) is a testament that there is opportunity (for health sciences majors). You still should go on in your (career) path and you have a way to make a good income here.”
“Innercare, in general, is very strong financially,” Nava said. “I think we know what is happening with both hospitals and there are great things that are happening, but just note that Clinicas/Innercare has been here for 50-plus years.”
“(Innercare is) doing great things and will continue to do great things,” he said.
Nava said Gafcon is shooting for a mid-2025 opening for the PACE Center and its surrounding clinic and pharmacy.
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Imperial Valley Press
Gafcon, Inc. provides comprehensive services in program and project management, construction, and development. The company’s techniques and methodology were developed as a response to increasing client demand for more effective controls, focusing on controlling cost, time and quality. Gafcon’s diverse portfolio includes projects from the educational, public works, governmental, commercial, and residential sectors. As an award-winning firm, Gafcon has been recognized in Engineering News-Record's Top 50 Program Management and Top 100 Construction Management Firm lists. Learn more at www.gafcon.com.
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