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Where To Find LTAC, Hospital and Nursing Home Ratings

Posted Jan 24 2010 1:38pm

By CK Wilde for 3GenFamily Blog

When my Dad was sent to the ER for a nosebleed that wasn’t stopping, the doctor cauterized the wound and released him to go home. But, the second time it happened, he spent a brief time in the hospital before being released to a rehabilitation facility.

There was a time when most regular hospitals provided long term acute care. But insurance companies and Medicare have put limits on the amount of time that someone can stay in the hospital. They have done this to reduce costs.

So, if the patient is recovering, according to the guidelines, the doctor must discharge him or her. If the hospital keeps the patient, it risks not being paid for the hospital stay.

Still, some people are not fully recovered when the hospital must discharge them. Many nursing homes are now also rehabilitation facilities so they can take many of these patients for a short time. But, not those that still require acute care.

How can someone require acute care but not need a hospital? Well, they might need to be on or close to expensive breathing machines or need kidney dialysis. Perhaps, the patient needs to have staff trained in medical emergencies available 24/7.

If this is the first time you are being told that your loved one can’t go directly home after a hospital stay, you may be stunned. It is not unusual for the social worker or the doctor to tell you, “Your Mother will be discharged the day after tomorrow.”

What do you do? You aren’t trained to give this kind of care!

This is where the Long Term Acute Care Hospital (LTAC) comes in. The social workers at the regular hospital will give the family a referral to one or more LTACs when the doctor believes that the patient needs continuing care before going home.

Some LTACs are part of a regular hospital system. Some are part of a nursing home corporation. How do you find out if the one closest to you is any good?

Medicare has a rating system for all hospitals. You can find it at this link on the Medicare website.

Medicare also rates nursing homes. You can find it on the Medicare website at this link.

Your state’s Office on Aging may also have additional reviews and rating systems. For California, you can use http://www.calqualitycare.org/.  This is a free information and referral service.

And, make sure to visit each facility. You don’t have to be an expert on hospitals. Look for order and cleanliness. Listen for staff who aren’t happy being there.

Still not enough information to make a decision?

Another resource is a geriatric care manager for help with care for an aging parent. You can search for one in your area from their association website http://www.caremanager.org/.  An experienced geriatric care manager will know which LTACs are the best in his/her area. They work closely with all the facilities and know which ones are good. 

Using these resources, along with suggestions from family or friends who have been in this situation, will help you find the right location for your loved one.

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© 2010 CK Wilde. All Rights Reserved. I don’t receive any compensation for the links in this article. Some of my other blog posts contain links that provide a small commission (books from Amazon, for example.) Please feel free to link to this post but you must have prior written permission (please use the comments) to reproduce this post either whole or in part.

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