The pandemic has pushed infection control standards to the forefront as patients and providers are counting on advanced protocols to reduce viral spread and prevent further outbreaks.
Now more than ever, it’s important for patients to be treated in a care setting that is not only best suited to their medical needs but also upholds the highest federally and clinically-recognized health and safety requirements.
This guide highlights five standards maintained by long-term acute care hospitals (LTACHS) to combat infection and protect the most vulnerable of patients, and the benefits of these hospital-based standards compared to other levels of care.
Levels of Care: Comparing Infection Protocols
As healthcare leaders continue to make bold changes to protect the health and safety of patients during this time, LTACHs have adapted to meet the advanced needs of the critically ill and medically complex – including those recovering from COVID-19. When patients are stabilized in the acute care setting, it’s important for providers to be aware of the infection prevention protocols of various post-acute care settings that optimize long-term patient recovery.
Many of the certifications set forth by federal programs and agencies are the foundational pieces that ensure standards of patient care are consistently met, including in the areas of quality and safety. LTACHs are required to adhere to a set of stringent operational guidelines, which ultimately benefits patients who receive care in these settings:
- LTAC hospitals are licensed as general acute care hospitals, and must comply with the same health and safety requirements¹.
- LTAC hospitals must meet state licensure requirements to ensure they are able to effectively manage the extensive care needs of critically ill, medically complex patients who require a longer recovery period.
Appropriate staffing is key to overseeing a medically complex patient population. LTACHs are staffed to provide 24/7 care under the guidelines set forth by CMS, as well as additional guidelines established at the facility level to ensure there are personnel fully dedicated to infection control. Some key benefits of these advanced staffing guidelines include:
- Through the CMS Medicare program, LTAC hospitals require daily physician oversight and a 24/7 RN presence.
- LTACHs feature hospital-level infection prevention and control overseen by an Infection Control Nurse.
- In addition to the physician-led interdisciplinary care, patients at LTACHs have immediate access to credentialed, infectious disease physicians and other medical sub-specialists.
#3. Employee Protection
As the recommendations for personal protective equipment (PPE) continue to ramp up based on the care setting, LTAC hospitals can rely on their long-standing practices of infectious disease control and treatment, infection prevention and promotion of safety at the highest level.
Additionally, LTAC hospitals participate in ongoing education regarding preventing and minimizing the spread of viruses and infections. For example:
- Competencies and special employee training are built in to address myriad multi-drug resistant organisms, viruses and infections in order to prevent or minimize their spread.
- Many LTAC hospital systems, like Kindred, have a well established and robust PPE supply chain with standard best practices to react to a full range of infections and communicable diseases.
#4. Patient Safety
In addition to well-established PPE best practices and infection control training, LTAC hospitals have additional guidelines in place to protect the patient. LTACHs are engineered with patient safety top of mind. Some standards often unseen in other care settings include:
- Protocols to isolate infected patients, dedicated teams that monitor for outbreaks and multiple levels of protective gear.
- On-site testing and services that enable LTAC hospitals to meet a full range of patient needs without relying on outpatient services.
- LTAC hospital licensing requires hospital-quality air filtration systems.
#5. Advanced Clinical Expertise
LTAC hospital professionals are leading industry experts in ventilator care, with best-in-class capabilities in weaning the most challenging ventilator-dependent patients, all while remaining committed safety. Kindred LTACHs partner with agencies that help further its clinical expertise in infection control through several initiatives:
- Kindred has been recognized for its leading antimicrobial stewardship and infection prevention efforts².
- Kindred regularly cooperates with state, local and federal agencies, including public health departments, to study and better understand how all healthcare providers can help prevent disease spread.
If you have a post-COVID patient, or other patients in need of care after a hospital stay, call a Kindred Clinical Liaison for a patient assessment. If you are unsure of who your Kindred representative is, please feel free to contact us via recoveratkindred.com.
Dr. Sean Muldoon, SVP, CMO for Kindred Healthcare’s Hospital Division, oversees clinical care oversight, medical staff affairs, and strategic relationships.