Nonprofit health care provider CentroMed is one step closer toward constructing a new facility in South San Antonio to house a new comprehensive managed-care program for the frail elderly.

A $500,000 grant awarded Tuesday by the Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio (BHFSA) will support construction costs for the $8.5 million building CentroMed needs to implement a program that offers an alternative to nursing home entry for people 55 years and older who are unable to perform activities of daily living on their own.

The grant was announced during BHFSA’s annual awards ceremony, where the foundation gave more than $6 million to 90 area nonprofits working to better people’s physical, mental, and spiritual health in one of eight counties served by the foundation, including Bexar, Bandera, Guadalupe, and Kendall counties.

Since 2005, the organization has awarded more than 1,000 grants totaling nearly $76 million.

BHFSA President and CEO Cody Knowlton said the grants “will enable these organizations to have an even greater impact on San Antonio area residents, helping those who need it most.”

CentroMed received the foundation’s second-largest award, just behind Meals on Wheels San Antonio, which was awarded $600,000 to build a new facility for food preparation and expand its services for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Ernesto Gómez, CentroMed’s president and CEO, said the funding from the foundation is going toward a goal that has been eight years in the making. The Texas Legislature last session passed authorization for a San Antonio program site for a Medicare/Medicaid program called PACE – Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.

The program aims to improve the quality of life for people who require around-the-clock care and should be in a nursing home but instead are typically cared for by family members.

“What we have found is that family member caretakers typically do not have the knowledge or the skill to be able to provide the level of specialized care needed to help this population, with the end result being that eligible elders are not getting the care they need in the home,” Gómez said.

Under the program, which is for eligible Medicaid or Medicare recipients, participants spend their day under the supervision of a multidisciplinary team of medical providers and specialists who provide treatment before they are returned to their residence. 

In Bexar County, Gómez said, more than 9,000 seniors are eligible for the PACE program.

“It’s not an easy program to do, but it has proven to be cost effective, patients do better health-wise and have a better quality of life, and the state and federal government saves money,” Gómez said, noting CentroMed is hoping to open the facility in 2021. 

Other recipients receiving Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio grants include area students pursuing careers in health care, including nursing and counseling. More than $1.3 million in scholarships were awarded, with priority given to high school graduates from Harlandale Independent School District, Edgewood ISD, San Antonio ISD, Southwest ISD, and South San Antonio ISD. The money will fund tuition at universities including the UT Health School of Public Health in San Antonio and San Antonio College. 

The foundation also awarded grants totaling $62,000 to the Texas Baptist Men, a nonprofit whose volunteers travel the state to help people recover from natural disasters, and the Salvation Army, which supports communities as they rebuild after the initial impact of a disaster. 

Maj. Robert Webb of the Salvation Army said the organization’s disaster relief team will use the funding for cooking meals for migrant rescue teams along the U.S.-Mexico border and training additional people to provide long-term supportive services.

Other award recipients include the Texas Medical Association Foundation, Any Baby Can of San Antonio, Rise Recovery, and Project Mend, who were among the 57 organizations that received a total of $3.6 million for health care initiatives. 

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the San Antonio Report.