Healthcare providers are learning that patients recovering from COVID-19 have specific medical and rehabilitative needs that must be addressed before being discharged home from the hospital.
“Acute inpatient rehabilitation hospitals and long-term acute care (LTAC) hospitals are uniquely qualified to treat these patients,” says Jason Zachariah, COO of Kindred Healthcare. Inpatient rehab hospitals provide a combination of comprehensive rehabilitation and specialty care services aimed at patients with infectious diseases. Zachariah shares how intensive postacute services for COVID-19 patients improve care quality while reducing rehospitalizations and costs.
Q: How do acute inpatient hospitals/units provide unique value for patients who are recovering from the novel coronavirus?
Zachariah: Over the last four months of surges, we are seeing that patients who have survived COVID-19 have an immense need for inpatient rehabilitation. We have learned that following pulmonary and multisystem organ stabilization, patients continue to experience the devastating effects of the coronavirus, including debility and cognitive impairment. They are also at risk for deep vessel strokes and other coagulopathy issues. This includes everyone from patients who were in the ICU and on a ventilator to those in hospital med-surg settings.
Inpatient rehab hospitals and LTAC hospitals are designed to address these health issues. They have multiple physician specialties, focused ventilator and respiratory recovery, intense rehab services several hours a day, and heightened infection control practices. Patients who receive two to four weeks of intensive inpatient rehabilitation have significantly better outcomes and are more likely to return safely to the community or home with improved functional and cognitive abilities compared to patients who go straight from an acute setting after being stabilized to those same environments.
Q: What is one thing that you wish consumers/patients knew about acute inpatient hospitals/units?
Zachariah: They should know that they are extremely safe places for themselves and their loved ones to receive care during this pandemic. Also, we have maintained the same level of services under COVID-19, while other care settings have had to ebb and flow their services. We are a safety provider of choice for the acute hospital systems that refer to us and for those with whom we have joint ventures or management partnerships. We have great PPE and do an extraordinary amount of COVID-19 testing on our healthcare workers and teammates.
Q: How do acute inpatient hospitals/units benefit partner hospitals and health systems?
Zachariah: While our acute inpatient hospital partners have done an amazing job building inpatient acute programs, progressive health systems recognize that inpatient rehabilitation hospitals extend the continuum of care by addressing the gap between acute and ambulatory service lines. Our hospitals allow patients who still need moderate to intensive medical and clinical services to remain in an inpatient setting, where they will receive compassionate care over a longer period of time to help bridge them back to the community. That value is seen in a better patient experience and clinical outcomes, such as reduced hospitalizations. This also opens up more beds upstream to handle the sickest of COVID-19 patients.
Q: Why do you think rehab hospitals/units are succeeding in helping COVID-19 patients recover safely and quickly, while other postacute settings are having significant challenges?
Zachariah: Our hospitals are well prepared to respond to a respiratory pandemic with physicians and staff who are trained to treat high-acuity patients with infections. Over the years, we have treated many patients with multidrug-resistant organisms through contact isolation and with specialty rooms that have negative pressure. Also, we have a strong incident command structure in place and were well ahead of COVID-19 before it hit our shores. Other postacute settings, such as skilled nursing facilities, were not fully prepared due to PPE shortages and necessary safety restrictions that limited their ability to offer rehabilitation to multiple patients in one setting. Our hospital environments, by sheer design, are more conducive for providing intensive gym and rehabilitation-type care outside of the patient’s room.
For more information visit: www.Kindredrehab.com