Exceptional Care for an Exceptional Life: Three Decades of Service

What’s it like to have the same job, working in the same place, for three decades? According to Dr. Jim Pedulla, Medical Director of Neighborhood PACE, it’s pretty great. “This is very rewarding work that I do. And I love the people I work with. I’ve worked with fantastic people for 30 years. Working in tandem with the PACE team every day, improving the lives of those we care for—that’s what drives our trains. It’s what we do.”

Neighborhood PACE is an innovative model of care that helps our older neighbors live at home in our community for as long as possible. After joining the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center in 1998, Dr. Pedulla helped launch Neighborhood PACE in 1990 as a geriatrician and has since served as the program’s medical director. In this role, he is responsible for enabling older adults to live in the place they call home while receiving the medical care they need.

“My 30 years as a physician and medical director with PACE have passed quickly, but I remain confident today as then that this is the very best model for providing health and social services to frail persons and those with multiple complex medical conditions,” says Dr. Pedulla. “The PACE model enables me—or the nurses, practitioners, dietician, or therapists—to spend far more time with our patients than in other settings. We get to develop relationships with our participants, watch their successes, and assist with their choices. Any provider would agree that that’s what we find the most rewarding—the ability to focus the time necessary for each person, as opposed to the rapid appointment methods of seeing people throughout an office day.”

Neighborhood PACE’s team consists of geriatricians, nurse practitioners, behavioral health providers, rehabilitation providers, and other staff who work with participants and their families to ensure high-quality care. In this model, problems are detected more quickly and addressed more effectively than in a traditional practice. Dr. Pedulla notes: “For the medical provider in other settings, achieving this degree of synchrony for a patient in a busy ambulatory practice, working with multiple agencies, is nearly impossible.” In fact, PACE receives many referrals from providers struggling elsewhere!

Tina Smith, RN, is Director of Clinical Operations for Neighborhood PACE. “I’ve been here for a little over 29 years, working with Dr. Pedulla the whole time,” she said. “I have never met anyone with more compassion, dedication, or commitment to a program or mission. Neighborhood PACE would not be what it is today if not for Jim.”

Nancy Seigal, NP, has also worked alongside Dr. Pedulla for many years. “I haven’t ever worked with a medical professional who expresses such a degree of compassion—for not only participants and their families, but coworkers as well,” Nancy observed. “Jim Pedulla embodies the mission of PACE and has dedicated his professional practice to the betterment of our participants.”

Looking back over his career, Dr. Pedulla can be proud of what he and the PACE team have accomplished. “Much has changed since we began care for 30 participants at the Lyman School center in East Boston in 1990. We now care for over 600 people in multiple communities. We have embraced the progressive development of the electronic medical record, developed important new partnerships with housing entities, and tightened loops during care transitions with our nursing facilities and hospital partners. My enthusiasm for our future is as strong as ever!”

Poised to celebrate its 30th birthday, Neighborhood PACE is part of a national network of programs called the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). The PACE model of care evolved from the belief and experience that older adults with chronic care needs, and their families and caregivers, are better served by remaining in their homes and community whenever possible. To find out more, visit neighborhoodpace.org or call 617-568-6377.

PACE began as a demonstration project in the early 1970s in San Francisco. On Lok (Cantonese for “place of peace and happiness”) Senior Health Service coordinated many community-based services to help families in the Italian-Chinese North Beach neighborhoods care for aging family members—and avoid a nursing home placement. Ultimately this model of care for older adults was funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and adopted in many other states.

EBNHC has been a vital part of the community for nearly 50 years. From the beginning, our services and development have been defined by the needs of East Boston and the communities we serve. Our mission is to provide easily accessible, affordable, appropriate, high-quality, personalized, coordinated primary care, for all who live and work in East Boston and the surrounding communities, without regard to age, income, insurance status, language, culture, or social circumstances.

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