As the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis continues to spread throughout the U.S., hospitals in current “hot spots” are facing unprecedented capacity issues—and similar prospects await hospitals in other areas that soon will experience spikes in COVID-19 cases.
When hospitals approach or reach patient capacity, they must turn to outside facilities to handle patient overflows. In this regard, skilled nursing facilities across the country with empty beds are receiving queries from hospital administrators about accepting overflow patients.
In nearly every case, hospitals and other healthcare settings are trying to keep all patients currently being treated for COVID-19 within their facility. Yet, many recovering COVID-19 patients require ongoing monitoring and treatment in rehabilitative environments. Still other patients being transferred out of hospitals and into skilled nursing facilities may be higher-acuity and require specific care that typically isn’t found in skilled nursing facility environments.
If your skilled nursing facility hasn’t already been contacted about accepting overflow patients by a referring hospital in your area, it very likely could in the near future. And while the challenges are significant, there are potentially great benefits associated with doing so. Assuming you currently have capacity, things could progress quickly; are you equipped to handle higher-acuity patients? And if not, what can you do to prepare?
At Richter, we recommend a progression of seven primary strategies to help you meet this challenge.
Meeting the Acute-Care Hospital Overflow Challenge in Skilled Nursing Facilities – No Time to Waste
To put the urgency of all this in perspective, consider: If your city or region experiences a COVID-19 peak in, say, mid-May, that means area hospitals will have their highest census at that point in time. Yet, COVID-19 hospital stays are lasting, on average, 20 days. So, your facility could potentially begin admitting recovering COVID-19 patients by June. And of course, you could be pressed to admit non-COVID-19 high-acuity patients before then, since hospital capacities could have run out during the peak.
All this is to say that, no matter where your facility is located, the time to act is now.
COVID-19 presents unprecedented challenges for everyone in the healthcare and senior care realms. Yet, by taking action to expand your facility’s service scope and capabilities, you’ll be playing a key role in increasing outcomes and potentially saving lives; you could increase your census in the process; and you’ll be well-positioned to meet the demands of future crises, whatever form they may take.
To aid you in this process, we have developed a COVID-19 Resource Center for skilled nursing facilities which will be regularly updated with the latest information.
Contact Richter’s Skilled Nursing Facility Consultants
Do you have questions about preparing your skilled nursing facility to handle overflow hospital patients, or other LTPAC clinical challenges? Call Richter’s skilled nursing facility consultants at 866-806-0799 to schedule a free consultation.
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