Swing-bed program underway at WGH

Warren General Hospital’s swing bed program is in full swing.

Agents from the Pennsylvania Department of Health inspected the facility late last month.

“Under the Medicare program, rural hospitals with 100 or fewer licensed beds are eligible to use a swing bed program,” Director of Nursing Trudy Bloomquist said. “This means that licensed beds can be used for acute care or post-acute patients. Post-acute patients are those who are ready for discharge from at least a three day medically necessary inpatient stay but who may still require some skilled services before they return home. Patients requiring short-term care (less than 20 days),who need services such as physical and occupational therapies, wound or IV therapies just to name a few are ideal candidates for swing bed programs.”

Continuity is one of the leading characteristics of a swing bed program.

“The program allows patients to remain on the medical-surgical floor, very often in the same room and with the same staff who provided care during the acute phase of their stay,” Bloomquist said. “This offers a continuation of the routines and relationships already established.”

“This is different than the way the previous Transitional Care Unit was licensed,” Bloomquist said. “It had to be maintained as separate skilled nursing facility within the hospital.”

The program is a stepping stone from acute care to independence.

“A swing bed is a licensed hospital bed which has been approved to provide short-term post-acute skilled level of care,” Director of Patient and Public Relations Holli Summerville said. “They are designed to offer medical or physical rehabilitation to patients who no longer need acute care but require additional inpatient care.”

“The goal of the swing bed program is to assist you or your loved one in becoming independent and ready for a lower level of care such as home or assisted living,” Summerville said.

As the time for discharge nears, “case managers at Warren General Hospital will work closely with the patient, the physician, and the family to determine the discharge plan and skilled needs for safe discharge,” Summerville said.

“Following discharge Warren General Hospital can follow your care with Home Health Care and or extended rehabilitation in RehabWorks outpatient setting.” Debbie Swanson, Director of Post Acute Care Services, said.

“In the changing world of health care today, facilities, especially rural and community hospitals, need to optimize on providing quality care efficiently,” Bloomquist said. ” The swing bed program allows that to happen. The swing bed program offers WGH the ability to continue to provide patients transition care utilizing the current medical-surgical unit. This helps to stabilize the census, staffing and overhead cost while allowing for the quality and continuity of care for the patient. It allows for patients to recuperate in their home town surrounded by family and friends.”

Affected staff underwent a one-week training period for the program with trainer Suzy Harvey, a clinical consultant for BKD.

The program is not only for patients who received acute care at Warren General. “The swing bed program is a valuable service to the community for patients of Warren General Hospital or any patient who has a medical or surgical procedure at another facility and would like to transfer to WGH to be closer to home for post acute services,” Harvey said.

“Overall, the swing bed program emphasizes quality patient care,” Summerville said. “Under the swing bed program, patients can remain at WGH for up to 20 days following an acute admission. Only in rare instances will a patient be sent to another facility due to a lack of available bed space.”

The hospital’s swing bed program currently accepts traditional Medicare patients and Bloomquist said the program will expand to include patients with other types of insurance.