Long Term Acute Care Hospitals: Beyond The Public Health Emergency

In July 2019, we published a white paper outlining the viability of Long-Term Acute Care Hospitals (“LTACHs”) and their value in the continuum of care. Little did we know that six months later, in January 2020, a public health emergency (“PHE”) would be declared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The entirety of the health care delivery system in the United States, and much of the world, would be reimagined as we took on SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus also known as COVID-19.

In the seventeen months since then, we have learned a great deal about the virus and how it spreads, behaves, and affects those who contract it. There is still so much to learn as we look back and study what happened, but we do know there will be those who are affected long term by the damage the virus left behind (termed: post-COVID 19 syndrome, post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection, or Covid long haulers). We also know that as acute care hospitals experienced never before seen surges in patients needing acute care hospitalization, LTACHs and other post short term acute care venues proved to be more valuable and in-demand than ever before.

As we look to transition to a post-COVID-19 emergency era of healthcare delivery, many of the lessons learned such as the value of telehealth and care at home will undoubtedly carry forward. It is also prudent to continue to explore the viability of LTACHs for providers and locations with chronic shortages in short-term acute care beds.