Pandemic Preparedness: Long-term Acute Care (LTAC) Challenges
By Mike Hodge, Director Business Development, Alternate Care Solutions, Dräger
As hospitals reach capacity in the treatment of COVID-19 patients who are suffering the lingering effects of the virus (e.g., damage to the lungs, heart, kidneys, gut, liver), they are turning to long-term acute care (LTAC) facilities to fill the gap in patient care. However, one has to ask if these facilities are prepared for the challenges of caring for these complex patients?
Depending on a facilities’ capacity, many may lack the equipment and supplies to manage the clinical complexities of COVID-19 cases. None of the chronic care facilities have had to provide this level of care in the past. Compounding this issue, the pandemic has intensified long-standing challenges in the LTAC space, including high operational costs and staffing shortages.
Even long-term acute care hospitals (LTACHs), which are typically well equipped to provide high-acuity care, have opportunity to advance and promote improved patient outcomes. In a study of 94 LTACHs caring for COVID-19 patients, published in the December 2020 edition of the journal CHEST, the researchers determined that:
(While) “LTACH staff have the skills necessary for treatment of COVID-19 patients, extensive preparations and transformations are required for treating patients with a highly virulent virus.” 1
LTAC administrators bear the burden of preparing their facilities and staff members for long-term care of COVID-19 patients. Here are some factors for consideration that can help LTAC facilities deliver high quality care at a lower cost.