Long-Term Acute Care: FAQ
FAQ About Long-Term Acute Care at the Good Shepherd Specialty Hospital
Q. What is a specialty or long-term acute care hospital?
A. When you have an accident, suffer a stroke or need surgery, the first place you go is an acute-care hospital. There, the doctors and nurses fix your injuries, perform your surgery and stabilize your condition. Many times, after being stabilized at an acute-care hospital, patients are too medically fragile to go home or to a rehabilitation facility. Perhaps they have an underlying chronic disease, like diabetes or heart disease, which delays the healing process. That's where a long-term acute care hospital (LTACH) comes in. Patients come to an LTACH for several weeks until they are well enough to move on to the next level of their recovery.
Q. How does a long-term acute care hospital differ from an acute-care hospital or nursing home?
A. The average length of stay for an LTACH patient is 25 days as compared to a 4- to 5-day average in an acute-care hospital. An LTACH differs significantly from a long-term care facility or nursing home. LTACH patients are much sicker and may need cardiac monitoring, multiple IVs or even ventilators. Doctors visit LTACH patients on a daily basis.
Q. What types of diagnoses are treated at a long-term acute care hospital?
A. Many of the diagnoses treated in an acute-care hospital can be treated in an LTACH. The most common diagnoses include respiratory and cardiac failure, septicemia (systemic infection) and osteomyelitis (bone infection). Other conditions treated include: peripheral vascular disease, pressure wounds, prolonged surgical recuperation, burns, trauma, complicated fractures, head injury, spinal cord injury, stroke and kidney failure (on dialysis).
Q. What specialized services are available at a long-term acute care hospital?
A. The nurses, therapists and physicians at an LTACH have special expertise in weaning people off of ventilators and treating complex wounds. LTACHs also offer the full scope of services that are available in acute-care hospitals, such as radiology, CT scans, MRI, cardiology and laboratory services.
At the Good Shepherd Specialty Hospital, physical rehabilitation is key. Because patients at the LTACH often cannot withstand many hours of therapy per day, they receive a slower, more regimented therapy plan that takes into account their complex medical needs.
Q. What type of clinicians provide care at a long-term acute care hospital?
A. The Good Shepherd Specialty Hospital prides itself on taking the team approach to our patient's care.
While a physician leads the team, it is a care manager (either an RN or social worker) who acts as facilitator and coordinates patient care. RNs and nursing assistants provide nursing care and respiratory therapists address pulmonary needs. Physical, occupational and speech therapists help patients regain as much function as possible so they can get back to doing the things they love, like spending time with their families, working or simply mowing their lawns. Registered dietitians are available to monitor and counsel patients and clinical psychology services, and pastoral care lend patients and families necessary psychological, emotional and spiritual support.
At the Good Shepherd Specialty Hospital, 18 of the 32 beds are monitored by tele-intensivists. These are specially trained critical care doctors who use two-way audio/visual technologies to monitor patients from an off-site location. Patients are monitored throughout the night. Physicians have immediate access at all times, enhancing patient care and safety.
Q. Do you take ventilator-dependent patients?
A. Patients with tracheotomies or extensive breathing assistance needs are commonly admitted to the Good Shepherd Specialty Hospital. Patients who are unable to wean are not appropriate for this level of care. They require placement in a facility for long-term, chronic ventilator-dependant patients.
Q. Who decides if a patient is admitted to the facility?
A. The administrator of Good Shepherd Specialty Hospital, along with nurse managers, care managers and nurse liaisons, meet regularly to discuss the medical status of referred patients. The team evaluates a patient's need for long-term acute care, as well as other contributing factors, and makes a decision regarding admission.
Q. Do you take patients with complex wound care needs?
A. Yes. Treatment modalities include pulsatile lavage and use of the VAC® system. A certified wound nurse is on staff.
Q. Is the Specialty Hospital a "rehabilitation" hospital?
A. No, but our patients are provided physical, occupational and speech therapy, as needed and tolerated, by members of our therapy staff. There are no minimum therapy requirements for admission.
Q. Can a patient leave the Specialty Hospital for a physician appointment?
A. The care managers at Good Shepherd Specialty Hospital will make all the necessary arrangements for those patients who need to see a physician outside of the hospital.
Q. Will my insurance cover long-term acute care at Good Shepherd?
A. Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network holds contracts with numerous insurance providers and we will work with any insurance provider on behalf of our patients. Click here for more information.