When someone in your family is sick, your only concern is finding the best care for them! When you need a hospital that can give specialized, advanced care you may need a step above an ordinary hospital. A Long Term Acute Care Hospital (LTACH) is a hospital that offers specialized medical, nursing and rehabilitation services for patients who need more advanced care for recovery. Patients in an LTACH typically have a chronic or medically complex medical condition that requires hospitalization for an average of 25 days or more in a facility that offers a 24/7 specialized treatment program. “Long term” often leads people to assume that it’s like a nursing facility (nursing home), but a more correct description of an LTACH, would be a post-acute care hospital – a place for healing after a lengthy illness or major injury.
LTACH’s offer critical care or post-operative services but with a stronger recovery and rehabilitative focus allowed by the longer length of stay. Patients referred to an LTACH must meet an admission criteria designated by their insurer including Medicare, Medicaid, or other healthcare insurers.
At an LTACH, patients can continue to receive intensive interventions, such as ventilator weaning, cardiac monitoring, aggressive wound management, or antibiotic infusions while being managed by a coordinated patient care team. Typical services include daily client contact by Hospitalists and/or Pulmonologists, telemetry, laboratory, pharmacy, radiology, respiratory therapy, rehabilitation, or dialysis as ordered and typically an LTACH has an intensive staff-to patient ratio.
For those looking to understand what services and conditions may be available for treatment at an LTACH, the following are the most common:
• Extensive Wound Management • Respiratory Failure • Ventilator-Weaning • Cardiovascular Disease • COPD • Congestive Heart Failure • Head Injury/Trauma • Amputation • Infectious Diseases (including MRSA, VRE) • Malnutrition • Pneumonia • Post-Operative Patients • Renal Disease/Failure • Spinal Cord Injury • Stroke • Trauma • Dialysis (acute or end stage) • Parenteral Nutrition • Medically Complex Patients
Most frequent questions about LTACH Services:
Is an LTACH like hospice? No. Hospice care is primarily for those not expected to recover and have a terminal illness. In contrast, the Long Term Acute Care Hospital is for patients who can be treated, recover, and then return home or to a lower level of care.
Is an LTACH like a nursing home? Not at all. Patients in a Long Term Acute Care Hospital are too medically complex for nursing homes to typically accept. LTACH’s offer daily physician management, 24-hour nursing care, pharmacy in-house, radiology, dialysis, 24-hour respiratory therapy, and 6 day a week rehabilitation therapy. In addition, admission to an LTACH avoids using precious skilled nursing facility days granted by Medicare.
Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by Mary Ellen Kable. Mary Ellen is the CEO of LifeCare Hospitals of Mechanicsburg.