PAWTUCKET – It was 3AM Saturday morning when Tony’s police and fire scanner went off. The chatter was more than usual noise. Pawtucket Fire Department was calling for help with a fire that was clearly a big one. From the other side of Pawtucket, Tony and Pam got up to see what was going on.
“We opened the back door and we could see the flames from across the city,” remembers Tony. As a driver for PACE-RI’s medically complex elder participants, he knew that some of them live in that area, and they’d need help. Within minutes the two had gotten ready to offer whatever help they could.
“He didn’t even let me get changed,” Pam recalls. She and Tony raced to the fire, which was already enveloping the large mill complex, and was threatening to spread.
“Not even the Red Cross had gotten to the scene yet,” says Tony. “It was like a war zone.” It was soon clear that residents of the all the nearby buildings were being evacuated, and that they would need to start locating PACE participants. The local residents had been instructed to relocate to the Knights of Columbus building, about a 10-minute walk away. But the power was out throughout the neighborhood, leaving the roads dark in the chilly morning.
“They were freezing out there,” Pam says. She and Tony picked up two PACE participants and a few more folks who were on the sidewalk, getting them to a safe shelter. They got on the phone with Brenda, PACE’s homecare coordinator, who along with Darlene (transportation dispatcher) and Ada (certified nursing assistant), started calling and emailing families to make sure everyone connected to PACE was accounted for, healthy, and stable.
“It was all hands on deck,” explains Brenda. She and the others worked throughout the morning to ensure that there was constant communication between the people on the ground and the families that needed help. One participant needed oxygen, another needed to be on dialysis, and Tony and Pam were making sure they were all looked after.
“We have a remarkable team here at PACE,” says Joan Kwiatkowski, PACE-RI’s CEO. “I am so proud of their quick and thoughtful actions this past weekend to make sure the older adults in our care were safe and had the medicines and supplies they needed. It’s a remarkable example of how our model allows us to be flexible in meeting the social and medical needs of every participant.”