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Crunching the Numbers

Alex Leuth & Family

To determine how many senior citizens will need assistance with daily living and health issues in the coming decades, just do the math.

By 2050, 20 percent of the total U.S. population will be 65 and over, up from 12 percent in 2000 and eight percent in 1950. The number of people age 85 or older will grow the fastest over the next few decades, comprising four percent of the population by 2050.

Performing routine daily activities, such as eating, bathing, dressing, paying bills, and preparing meals, can be a real challenge for a rapidly growing aging population. The children of older adults see an increasing need for care that is accessible, systematic, and consistent. CentraCare is one such organization that cares for our older adults, offering services from daily living to nursing home care, and everything in between.

Current CEO and CFO of CentraCare in Kalamazoo, DeWitt native Alexandria Lueth, CPA, understands that the struggle is real. She moved to Kalamazoo in 2005 to start her career in accounting at Plante Moran after earning a degree in accounting from Hope College.

"I took the job after my first visit to Kalamazoo, which was the day of my interview," she said. "Since moving here in 2005, I have loved getting to know this community."

While Lueth was settling into a new city, a new career, and marriage; the PACE program, operated by CentraCare, Inc., was preparing to come to Southwest Michigan by 2009.

PACE is a unique managed care program that provides community-based care and services for older adults who would otherwise not be able to live independently. Many participants in PACE extend their time at home by four to six years beyond those not in such a program. About eight percent of participants are ultimately referred to nursing homes.

Experiencing success in Battle Creek and keeping the ever-growing need for seniors in mind, CentraCare turned to the healthcare giants of Kalamazoo County, including Bronson Hospital, Senior Services of Southwest Michigan, Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan, and Summit Pointe of Calhoun County, to help more seniors.

The group worked for about three years as a stakeholder group to make sure PACE could come to Kalamazoo County.

With CentraCare PACE up and running in Battle Creek, and Kalamazoo slated to open in 2013, Lueth crossed paths with the program in 2012 as their Chief Financial Officer. In 2014, she became CEO and CFO of CentraCare. She assumed responsibility for more than 100 employees in 12-15 different health care disciplines.

Why does she remain in Kalamazoo to pursue this endeavor?

"I think this is a special place because of how involved community members get," said Lueth. "We have an excellent volunteer and philanthropic spirit. When I go to the grocery store or walk downtown, I see people I know and they say hi! For all of these reasons, I love leading a business in Kalamazoo."

Husband Brian and three-year-old daughter, Jordyn, also love Kalamazoo. A WMU alumnus, Brian and his family attend WMU Athletic games and embrace "all things Kalamazoo."

"We love going to parks with Jordyn, riding our bikes and running on the trails, enjoying our local restaurants and breweries, attending WMU sporting events, shopping downtown, and going to movies at Alamo Drafthouse when Brian and I get a date night," said Lueth.

Brian recently accepted the position of Controller at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

"He is really enjoying working there - we both love our jobs and have wonderful friends."

In keeping with her plan professionally, Lueth plans to finish her master's degree at the University of Michigan (MHSA - Masters in Healthcare Services Administration), and grow CentraCare in both Kalamazoo and Calhoun Counties.

When you crunch the numbers, there is no doubt that Lueth will have plenty of people to serve.

Clearly, she is prepared to do it.

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