Chattanooga Area Ascension Living Facilities Help PACE Participants During Easter Sunday Tornado

Monday, May 4, 2020

Late Easter Sunday, when thunderstorms and an EF-3 tornado caused widespread devastation to the Chattanooga area – affecting the most vulnerable, frail seniors and their families – two Ascension Living facilities teamed up to provide safe shelter for storm victims.

Ascension Living Alexian PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) and Alexian Village – Tennessee responded in a coordinated effort to meet the needs of PACE participants. PACE is a community-based program serving about 280 senior residents in Hamilton County offering senior home care, adult day care and geriatric medical care. Alexian Village is a senior living community about nine miles from downtown Chattanooga, offering independent living, assisted living, memory care, rehabilitation and therapy and long-term skilled nursing care. 

Following the destruction, many participants served by Ascension Living Alexian PACE and their families experienced property damage and were without power. On Monday morning, the PACE interdisciplinary team addressed participant needs (i.e., those who needed electricity for medical equipment, etc.), mobilized resources and had some program participants transferred to safe locations with family. Six PACE participants with special needs remained without safe shelter options, as the evening temperatures dipped to the 30s.

Vicki Guertin, executive director, Alexian PACE, reached out to Doug Malin, Alexian Village administrator, which immediately ignited a team effort to find shelter for the six stranded without power. 

“Within hours on Monday, we were able to work out a solution to provide safe, warm shelter for our participants and their families,” Ms. Guertin said.

"Alexian Village responded quickly with a creative solution to ensure the safest environment possible, while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines and screening processes," officials said. "An unused building on Alexian Village’s Continuing Care Campus, which was once the Alexian Inn hotel, was quickly converted into safe temporary shelter space. Alexian Village staff went into action preparing rooms. Within two hours, beds were moved and made, rooms were cleaned and toiletries and towels were laid out for guests. Staff provided food and hospitality to guests throughout the stay."

Alexian PACE provided 24-hour staffing by certified nursing assistants at the Inn, and continued each individual's plan of care including medical supervision, transportation, pharmacy services, rehab services and social services, until everyone could transition safely. Some of the PACE participants returned to their homes within several days, another stayed one week.

“It was amazing how the team worked together to make this happen,” Mr. Malin said. “Maintenance, environmental services, dining services, nursing, social services and administration all worked together to make the rooms available to PACE participants.”  

During one of the most challenging times – an historic virus pandemic, storms and tornado – an overwhelming need to serve inspired pa"ssion, creativity and coordinated response on behalf of Chattanooga’s most vulnerable, frail seniors served by Alexian PACE," officials said.

Ms. Guertin said PACE family members expressed gratitude for this compassionate act of caring.


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