Understand Long Term Acute Care: Senior Healthcare

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Long Term Acute Care Hospitals focus on patients with serious medical problems that require intense, special treatment for a long time (usually about 20-30 days). These patients often transfer from Intensive Care units in traditional hospitals. It would not be unusual for a LTACH patient to need ventilator or other life support medical assistance

The biggest difference between a traditional hospital and a LTACH is in the specialization. LTACH’s specialize in Long Term Acute Care services, while a traditional hospital offers many general services such as emergency rooms, maternity wards, and other services.

The second difference is that LTACH’s may offer better care for patients that fit their specialization. The LTACH can focus very high standards on just a relatively small list of ailments, whereas the traditional hospital is more “spread-out” across a wide range of medical specialties. This is not to say that you cannot receive good acute care in a traditional hospital; it is just that the LTACH is set up to specialize in that care.

Across the nation there are close to 400 LTAC facilities. In the Washington, D.C. metro area, however, there are only three of these designated facilities which are operated by The Specialty Hospital of Washington. The following offers a glimpse into the services provided by Long Term Acute Care Hospitals.

*Ventilator Program*
With a Ventilator Program, many patients with respiratory failure or mechanical ventilation will be able to be successfully weaned from ventilator dependence and achieve their highest functioning level. The program is led by experts in pulmonary medicine and dedicated respiratory therapists whose only responsibilities are the active weaning of patients. The program also provides treatment to patients who require significant respiratory care who are not mechanically ventilated.

*Wound Care*
Patients with complex wounds, including pressure ulcers, serious wound complications or those who are recovering from extensive surgery, should receive care through a Wound Care Program. Visited daily by wound care specialists, these patients are given the time and optimal environment to heal with careful attention placed on the management of other complicating conditions, such as diabetes and vascular disease.

*Medically Complex*
Patients with complex medical conditions that require extended care in a hospital setting benefit from a Medically Complex Program’s integrated treatment regimen, which includes daily visits by medical and surgical subspecialists. Each unit should be equipped with life-support services that include telemetry, parenteral nutrition support, cardiac and respiratory monitoring, and dialysis.

Information for this article provided by David DeClark with The Specialty Hospital of Washington.

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