Kansas City Community Health Center Establishes First-of-its-kind Health and Wellness Center for Older Adults September 25, 2023

In a Nutshell

What: In a new facility opening this fall, Federally Qualified Health Center Swope Health will launch PACE KC, a comprehensive health and wellness program for adults ages 55 and up in Jackson County, MO, that will help them age gracefully in their home communities without having to move to nursing homes and other institutional settings.
Sector: Health care
Location: Kansas City, MO (Mount Cleveland)
Size: 32,000 square feet
Cost: $15 million
Sources of Funding/Financing: Capital campaign, The Mabee Foundation, Health Forward Foundation, The Sunderland Foundation, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, William T. Kemper Foundation, Marion and Henry Block Family Foundation, Victor E. Speas Foundation, Swope Ridge Foundation, New Markets Tax Credits (allocated by Central Bank of Kansas City and Legacy Bank of Springfield, with Capital One serving as the investor)
IFF Support: Owner’s representative for the construction of the PACE KC Adult Wellness Center
IFF Staff Lead: LaMar Miller, director of Real Estate Solutions – Southern Region; Claire Campbell, senior owner’s representative
Design: Bell/Knott & Associates
General Contractor:
McCownGordon Construction
Impact: 90 jobs created; 350 adults ages 55+ per year provided with comprehensive health care once PACE KC reaches capacity

For more than 50 years, Swope Health, a Federally Qualified Health Center, has provided high-quality health care to Kansas Citians – growing from a single clinic in a church basement to a network of 19 locations that provide comprehensive primary care and behavioral health services to more than 44,000 patients per year. This fall, the organization will take the next step in expanding its service offering with the opening of a new facility in the Mount Cleveland neighborhood that will also help establish a unique model of care for older adults known as the Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) KC.

Designed to provide comprehensive health care for patients ages 55 and older, the goal of PACE is for seniors to be able to age gracefully in their home communities by holistically addressing their physical, emotional, and psychological needs. Currently implemented by 140 organizations across the United States, PACE has been shown to reduce participants’ visits to emergency rooms, lower their hospitalization rates, reduce nursing home admissions, and generally improve the quality of life for patients and their caregivers. When PACE KC opens this fall, it will become just the second PACE provider in the State of Missouri and the only PACE provider in Kansas City, MO.

“The services provided by PACE KC will fill a need that is not currently being met for older adults in the region,” says Heath Rath, PACE KC’s executive director. “The folks PACE KC will serve are, by and large, individuals with complex medical needs, many of whom have limited income and are on the precipice of living in an institutional setting. By providing wraparound health and wellness services that keep members at their highest level of function, PACE KC will give them the freedom and independence to stay in their homes and in their communities instead of being forced into hospitals and nursing homes because of their health.”

Central to PACE KC’s ability to meet the health and wellness needs of older adults in the Kansas City area is the 32,000-square-foot facility that will serve as the hub for the program’s services. Designed by Bell/Knott & Associates and built by McCownGordon Construction, the PACE KC Adult Wellness Center is located on a busy corridor next door to Swope Health’s headquarters – identified during a data-driven feasibility study as the location where PACE KC could achieve the greatest impact based on local need. To ensure that the service hub is as accessible as possible, PACE KC will provide free door-to-door transportation for PACE KC participants. And, as an added benefit, the facility is also adjacent to the community’s only full-service grocery store, putting PACE KC participants in close proximity to fresh, affordable food that will support their health goals.

With IFF serving as owner’s representative and guiding the organization through its largest capital project in nearly 30 years, Swope Health began construction of the $15 million PACE KC Adult Wellness Center in May 2022 and is on track to welcome participants through the doors of the completed facility in the fourth quarter of 2023. The project was funded through a capital campaign that has already surpassed its goal with the support of a variety of philanthropic institutions (see sidebar for more details) and is leveraging New Markets Tax Credits allocated by Central Bank of Kansas City and Legacy Bank of Springfield, with Capital One serving as the investor.

“We greatly benefited from having dedicated owner’s representation on this project, because the organization hasn’t undertaken a construction project of this scale since the Swope Health headquarters was developed in the mid-1990s,” says Rath. “I’m a gerontologist by trade, not a construction manager, so having IFF’s expertise at our fingertips and knowing the team was keeping our best interests in mind at all times was invaluable.”

When participants visit the PACE KC Adult Wellness Center, they’ll find a homelike environment designed to be an inviting place to access primary care, rehabilitation therapy, and other routine medical services. Along with offices and meeting spaces for PACE KC staff and high-quality clinical spaces for medical care, the facility will include a plethora of amenities designed to reduce social isolation and offer opportunities for recreation. Among them are a day center that will host meals and classes on topics pertinent to PACE KC participants, a rehabilitation gym, computer lab, library, arts and crafts room, bathing suite, low-stimulation memory care area for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and an outdoor recreation space.

“We were very deliberate with the design and the overall aesthetic of the building; it needs to be a place that participants want to come to so their health outcomes don’t suffer.”

“We wanted to ensure we created a variety of environments within the facility that participants can use as a sanctuary,” says Rath. “We also wanted to make sure there was a safe and secure space outside where participants can benefit from fresh air and a connection to the outdoors. We were very deliberate with the design and the overall aesthetic of the building; it needs to be a place that participants want to come to so their health outcomes don’t suffer.”

After enrolling in PACE KC, each participant will meet with members of the PACE KC Interdisciplinary Team (IDT), which includes a registered nurse, life enrichment specialist, dietitian, occupational therapist, adult wellness center director, home care coordinator, personal care attendant, transportation specialist, primary care provider, social worker, and physical therapist.

“Each member of the IDT brings their own unique perspective to the development of a coordinated plan of care that’s a living, breathing document,” explains Rath. “The PACE model is a really dynamic approach to care that adjusts over time based on each participant’s evolving needs.”

Once participants’ health goals are identified, the PACE KC team will develop a personalized care plan with service delivery coordinated to ensure that each participant is able to achieve and maintain their health and wellness at a level that enables them to continue living in their home. This flexible approach means that each participant will engage with the program differently, with some visiting the PACE KC Adult Wellness Center multiple times each week and others visiting infrequently and primarily engaging with the program through home visits. Seniors will also benefit from convenient, reliable delivery of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications, all of which will be accompanied by personalized instructions. All medically necessary care and services will be reimbursed by Medicare and/or Medicaid, making PACE KC accessible to older adults regardless of income.

To build the program’s pipeline and ensure that seniors in the area who will benefit most from the PACE model are aware it’s available, the PACE KC team is working with a variety of organizations to establish referral relationships. During its first year of operations, PACE KC expects to enroll 45 older adults who live in Jackson County, MO. By year five, the program will serve up to 350 patients annually.

“The PACE model is a really dynamic approach to care that adjusts over time based on each participant’s evolving needs.”

And while older adults in the Kansas City area will be the biggest beneficiaries of PACE KC’s launch, the program is also producing tangible positive impact for the broader community. Located on the east side of Kansas City in a neighborhood that experienced historic disinvestment, the new facility is a meaningful investment in community infrastructure that is also expected to create 90 high-quality jobs once the program reaches full capacity.

“Planning for the PACE KC Adult Wellness Center began in earnest in 2018, and we spent a lot of time making sure that, if we were going to do this, we did it correctly,” says Rath. “We’re excited to put our best foot forward when the new facility opens this fall and to add a level of care to Kansas City’s health care landscape that is going to make a big difference for our seniors, their families, and the community.”