After 20 years of caring for families at Pueblo Community Health Center, Dr. Rona Knudsen embraces her role as InnovAge PACE’s Center Medical Director, helping vulnerable older adults in the community. <br />
Dr. Rona Knudsen: A Passion for Serving Pueblo's Seniors
November 05, 2023
“InnovAge PACE makes it possible for many Pueblo families and seniors to stay in the homes and communities they love,” says Dr. Rona Knudsen, InnovAge PACE’s Center Medical Director in Pueblo. “Pueblo is our home too, and we are proud to be able to serve and support local seniors in such a comprehensive, wholistic way. Many are dealing with multiple, complex conditions, and it’s rare to find a program that can help them with all their needs.”
Knudsen is an accomplished physician with extensive experience caring for patients of various ages and various degrees of medical and social needs. A Colorado native, she earned her biology degree from Colorado College in Colorado Springs. She earned her medical degree from the State University of New York at Brooklyn Medical School. She then returned to Colorado in 2000.
For 22 years, Knudsen was a physician at Pueblo Community Health Center, caring for everyone from newborns to the elderly. She admits she hadn’t heard of InnovAge until a key opportunity surfaced. “When I learned what InnovAge PACE does, I couldn’t believe it. It’s an incredible program. I immediately wanted to be a part of it. I knew I could serve the community at an even greater level, and, be surrounded by others with the same level of passion and commitment.”
“Dr. Knudsen has a long history of caring for the people of Pueblo,” says InnovAge Center Director Kelly Holland. “Over 90% of our staff are native Puebloans and many of their families have been here for generations. So, we are thrilled she is now leading our team of dedicated, local caregivers.”
InnovAge is the largest PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) provider in the country (per census) and has been serving seniors for more than 30 years. InnovAge is both the insurance and health care provider for enrolled seniors (called “participants”) and helps with medical, financial, social, and emotional care and support. Most participants receive all Medicare and Medicaid, as well as additional care and services, at little to no cost.
“They treat me like a queen here,” laughs Sarah Marquez, a participant at the Pueblo center located a few minutes south of downtown. “InnovAge is like family to me. I lost my husband last year, and they’ve all been here for me. I enjoy coming because it helps me a lot.”
Each participant is assigned a care team that includes a PCP, nurse, social worker, home care coordinator, physical and occupational therapist, driver, nutritionist, and more. Benefits and services include transportation to and from medical appointments and the center; primary care; specialty care coordination; in-home services; physical, occupational, and speech therapy; dental and vision services; mediation management; counseling; nutritional guidance; meals; exercise; and activities.
“In this community, family is a priority,” says Knudsen. “Many participants see us as an extended part of their family. For some, we are their only family. For many of our staff, it’s their family, too. What’s most important is that we wrap our arms around them and show them just how much we care.”
Click Here for The Pueblo Chieftain's article on InnovAge Colorado PACE Pueblo Center Medical Director Dr. Rona Knudsen.