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Continued care after a hospital stay is often vital for patient recovery, but infection control protocols vary by setting.

As we face the pandemic and flu season, it’s more important than ever for patients to be treated in the healthcare setting that is not only best suited to their medical needs, but that also upholds high health and safety standards.

When patients leave a traditional hospital, they may need continued care to recover. Transitional Care Hospitals (also known as long-term acute care hospitals) offer the same level of care patients receive in a traditional hospital and intensive care unit, but with additional recovery time. Patients who are best suited for this care setting require daily visits from a physician and care provided by clinicians who specialize in treating complex medical conditions.

Though there are many care settings for patients following a hospital stay, they do not all have the same infection control standards. It’s important for patients and loved ones to understand the different standards when making care decisions – especially during a pandemic and flu season.

This article covers 5 ways Transitional Care Hospitals (TCHs) fight infection and protect their vulnerable patients.

1. Certification

TCHs are required to meet a set of rigorous guidelines; they:

  • Are licensed as general acute care hospitals, and must follow the same safety requirements as traditional hospitals set by CMS.
  • Must also meet state licensure requirements to ensure they can effectively manage the special care needs of critically ill patients.

2. Dedicated Staff

TCHs provide 24/7 care and employ staff members fully dedicated to fighting infection; they:

  • Require daily physician visits and a 24/7 Registered Nurse (RN) presence. Skilled nursing facilities limit requirements to eight hours of RN coverage daily, and a physician visit during the first 30 days of patient admission, with only one visit required every subsequent 60 days.
  • Feature hospital-level infection prevention overseen by a full-time Infection Control Nurse. Other post-acute settings typically employ a part-time infection preventionist.
  • Have immediate access to credentialed infectious disease physicians in addition to the physician-led interdisciplinary care team.

3. Infection Prevention

TCHs have long-standing practices for fighting infectious disease, such as treatment, prevention and ongoing education, including:

  • Employee training to address viruses and infections in order to prevent/minimize their spread.
  • Many systems, like Kindred Healthcare, have a robust personal protective equipment (PPE) program with standard best practices for a full range of infections and diseases.
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4. Patient Safety

Unlike many other care settings, TCHs have traditional hospital-level protocols to protect the patient, including:

  • Protocols to isolate infected patients, which include negative pressure rooms (which are specially engineered to reduce viral spread), dedicated teams that monitor for outbreaks and multiple levels of protective gear.
  • On-site medical services to meet a full range of patient needs without relying on outpatient services.
  • TCH licensing requires hospital-quality air filtration systems. Skilled nursing facilities often have the same air filtrations systems as the average residential home.

5. Advanced Clinical Expertise

TCH clinicians are ventilator care experts, with best-in-class capabilities to help ventilator-dependent patients wean off the vent. Kindred Hospitals partner with organizations that help enhance our clinical expertise:

  • Kindred has been recognized for its leading antimicrobial stewardship and infection prevention efforts, which are part of a larger CDC-recognized initiative improving how antibiotics are prescribed to prevent infection and combat antibiotic resistance.
  • Kindred regularly cooperates with state, local and federal agencies to better understand how all healthcare providers can help prevent disease spread.
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