Healthcare Headlines Blog

What is a Long-Term Acute Care Hospital?

By Sophia Kroon

Long-Term Acute Care Hospitals (LTACHs) offer aggressive, medically complex care, intensive care and short-term rehabilitation.

Licensed as acute care hospitals, LTACHs are unique in their ability to care for critically ill patients who require specialized and goal-directed care over an extended recovery time. They have an additional Medicare certification that supports a length of stay measured in weeks as compared to the typical five-day stay for patients in traditional hospitals. At Kindred, about two-thirds of our LTACH patients have Medicare.

LTACH patients require an average length of stay of 25-30 days, and have many co-existing medical conditions, some acute and some chronic. Examples of some of the services LTACH patients require are:

  • Dialysis
  • Ventilator management and weaning
  • Special monitoring
  • Wound care
  • Nutritional therapy
  • Pain management and IV therapy

Some of the conditions commonly seen in a LTACH are:

  • Pulmonary disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Emphysema
  • Multiple organ system failure
  • Ventilator dependence
  • Cardiac disease
  • Pressure wounds
  • Neuromuscular diseases
  • Gastrointestinal diseases
  • Post-operative complications such as infection, bleeding or stroke

In a LTACH, care is provided by an interdisciplinary team that may be made up of physicians, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, speech therapists, physical therapists or others. The team’s goal is to identify the patient’s medical conditions, formulate a treatment plan, set reasonable goals and coordinate care to meet those goals, ultimately resulting in improvement over the long term.

In some cases, the patient’s regular physician will continue to see the patient if he or she is moved to a Long-Term Acute Care Hospital; in other cases, the patient’s care will be transferred to a physician who specializes in caring for patients who require long-term acute care. Nursing staff levels are comparable to those at a short-term acute care hospital, as are staffing levels for therapists and other clinicians.

Family members play a crucial role in the patient’s recovery and healing process. They provide a valuable service to the patient and to the interdisciplinary team by offering support as well as background information. Family conferences, case management and social services help connect the LTACH team with the critical family caregivers.

Kindred’s Long-Term Acute Care Hospitals have had great success in reducing readmissions to acute care hospitals, and government studies show that choosing a LTACH reduces the odds of readmission by almost half. Fewer readmissions relieves stress on patients and also saves money for Medicare and insurers.

Kindred’s mission for each patient and family is: hope, healing and recovery.

By Sophia Kroon