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Harbor’s Elder Service Plan Opens COVID-19 Respite Center

20th May 2020

Responding to needs of frail elders with COVID-19

Because of the COVID-19 crisis, the health of frail elders is very much at risk right now. Over the past several weeks, our team at Harbor Health Elder Service Plan has responded to keep our elder participants safe.

Our Elder Service Plan is a Massachusetts Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).  Similar to Harbor’s community health centers, our PACE program is a community-based care hub.  As a program participant, low- and moderate-income frail elders receive personalized healthcare and social support services to stay independent and at home.

From the start of the crisis, our PACE team quickly moved to providing healthcare and support services in our participant’s homes.  Just last week, the team also welcomed our first participant recovering from COVID-19 to our new 12-bed Respite Center in Mattapan.

“Despite the challenges the pandemic has posed, our ability to open the Respite Center has created an unique opportunity to bring together our staff and community to care for our most vulnerable seniors,” explained Gretchen Reynard, the senior vice president of Harbor’s Elder Service Plan.

How Will the Respite Center Help PACE Participants?

Our team mobilized the Respite Center to give participants a safe, comfortable place to recover after a COVID-19-related hospital stay. The Respite Center is also serving participants with COVID-19 who are receiving end-of-life comfort care.

Even when hospital-level care is no longer needed, participants with COVID-19 are often unable to return home. In some cases, family members are too sick to care for them – the elder needs more specialized care than they can provide. Or an assisted living facility or nursing home would not allow them to return.

In an unfamiliar hospital setting, participants and their families can become stressed and anxious.  They are not seeing their regular medical providers who they know and trust.  The social supports are also not the same.

A key aspect of the PACE program is the close, personal relationship our providers and care team members have with our participants.  At Harbor’s Respite Center, our PACE participants can receive 24-hour medical and supportive care from their familiar, dedicated healthcare team.

Critical Care for Frail Elders In Our Community

Elders in our community have been especially hard hit by COVID-19.  The average age of the over 7,700 Massachusetts residents hospitalized as a result of COVID-19 is 68.  Thirty-one percent of hospitalized residents are over age 80.

PACE participants are often the frailest and most medically complex members of our community.  The Respite Center is a critical part of caring for  the frail elders enrolled in Harbor’s PACE program.

Harbor’s PACE program is accepting new members!  We are also offering virtual tours.  Visit to learn more about the program.