Highmark's PALS Program Reaches 15-year Milestone of Service to Medicare Members

Sep 13, 2012, 07:00 ET from Highmark Inc.

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In September 1997, the first volunteers recruited to participate in Highmark's People Able to Lend Support (PALS) program made their first in-home visits with seniors. Fifteen years later, the program, which began in Pittsburgh, has expanded to reach Medicare members in 29 counties in Highmark's Pennsylvania service area and an additional 10 counties in West Virginia.

PALS is a volunteer service credit program that supports Highmark Medicare members by providing in-home services. Last year, more than 550 PALS volunteers provided more than 9,000 hours of service. Program volunteers help seniors maintain their independence by offering a helping hand with a variety of everyday tasks, all at no cost to the member.

Since the inception of the program, PALS volunteers have provided nearly 163,000 hours of service through some 39,000 visits, which are valued at $3.5 million.

"Grocery shopping, transportation to the doctor's office and running errands are easy tasks for most of us, but as people grow older, those activities can become more challenging," said Cindy Dellecker, senior vice president of senior markets and health plan operations. "To help ease the burden for seniors, the Highmark PALS program has provided non-medical help at no charge to Medicare members residing in the Pittsburgh area for the last 15 years. PALS has helped seniors maintain their independence through the support of volunteers."

Seniors who are in need of additional help with everyday tasks are encouraged to request assistance from this growing program. During the past several years, the PALS program has expanded to include book and walking clubs. Some areas have organized quilting clubs, which make lap robes and donate them to seniors in nursing homes.

"Our goal is to help seniors make friends, socialize, get exercise and have new experiences," said Dellecker. "This interaction helps to reduce their isolation and stimulate their minds. We are grateful to our volunteers who have helped us bring this program to the community at-large."

To learn more about volunteer and program opportunities, call 1-800-988-0706.

SOURCE Highmark Inc.