Choosing a Bridge Between Hospital and Home

By Simal Patel, MD, the emergency and hospital medicine Medical Director for Covington County Hospital. Dr. Patel is board certified in primary medicine and has specialized in emergency medicine since 2011.

There are many patients, especially elderly and frail patients, who need extra time and care before they can safely return home following debilitating injury like a broken hip, stroke, or major surgery like heart bypass. When acute hospital care is no longer necessary, these patients are often referred for short-term skilled nursing or rehabilitation services. This allows more time for patients to heal, gain strength, or learn adaptive daily life skills, and for loved ones to ensure that any necessary living environment modifications or home health care is in place.

What patients and their families should know is that you have the right to choose where you go for skilled nursing or rehabilitation services.

Hospital services can help patients and families coordinate with doctors and insurance on the types of services and length of stay that may be needed. It's a good idea to ask family or friends to tour facilities with available beds before making a decision. Keep in mind a short-term stay could last from a few days to several weeks. Some important factors to consider in choosing where to go will be the patient's and family's comfort with the location, services, staff, family amenities, and appearance and upkeep of the facility.

An option that may be right for you is the Swing Bed Program at Covington County Hospital. Covington County Hospital provides a bridge between hospital and home for patients needing short-term skilled nursing care or rehabilitation after joint replacement, heart surgery, stroke, broken bones, as well as wound care and IV antibiotic or nutrition therapy services.

A swing bed refers to a Medicare program that allows certified hospitals to use some inpatient rooms for acute care or skilled nursing care as needed. Covington County Hospital has 25 patient rooms for swing bed use. The rooms are over-size with soothing décor and home-like amenities including chef-prepared meal service, double-size sleeper sofa, flat-screen TV, and large bathroom. There's plenty of room for a family member to stay with you.

In addition to Covington County Hospital's 24-hour nursing staff and 24-hour emergency services with a physician onsite, most swing bed patients require some physical therapy or rehabilitation. Covington County Hospital's Swing Bed Program also provides an excellent team of physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists as well as social services and a registered dietician.

The Swing Bed Program accepts patients from across Mississippi and adjoining states. Most patients are referred by an acute care hospital, social services or home health agency. Patients or families may also make self-referrals, even for patients discharged directly home only to find they or their caregivers are unprepared for the patient's medical or physical needs. So long as the patient has had a three-consecutive night stay at an acute care hospital within the last 30 days, the Swing Bed Program at Covington County Hospital can provide a caring bridge between hospital and home.

To learn more about Covington County Hospital's Swing Bed Program and to see if it's right for you, call Covington County Hospital Social Services at 601-698-0131 or visit our Swing Bed Program page.