A rural hospital must be many things to many people. It is a trauma center for emergencies. A facility that accommodates equipment and technology offering MRI’s to endoscopy to pain management. And are medical centers with surgical facilities and with the means of caring for the ill. Swing bed units are what rural hospitals can offer the people in their communities and have available for patients’ recovery, with skilled nursing care.

CHI Mercy Health is one of those rural hospitals, because it’s a Critical Access Hospital (CAH) and a Medicare provider. CHI Mercy can use its rooms, “beds” as they’re called, to provide patients with either acute or skilled nursing facility (SNF) care–the beds therefore “swing” between the two. The swing bed (also called transitional care unit) concept allows a hospital to use its beds interchangeably for either acute-care or recovery care.

This is a great asset to a area like Barnes County. Patients don’t need to go to a nursing home to recover; they can recover at the hospital. Swing bed units can be used to rehabilitate patients recovering from surgeries, illnesses, or accidents. Debbie Anderson MS LPC NCC, our director of social and behavior services states, “During a swing bed stay,” said Debbie Anderson MS LPC NCC, “the staff here at CHI Mercy Health work as a team to rehabilitate the body, mind, and spirit of the patients. We feel it is a valuable part of their rehabilitation; the psychosocial aspect is as equally important as the medical side of things, if not more important.” Anderson is the Director of Social and Behavior Services at CHI Mercy Health.

Any patient receiving Medicare benefits is eligible for a swing bed stay after three-day qualifying stay in the hospital or nursing home. The three-day requirement does not apply to non-Medicare patients. There is no Medicare requirement to place a swing bed patient in a nursing home, and there are no requirements for transfer agreements between hospitals and nursing homes.

Swing bed unit at CHI Mercy Health is a wonderful alternative from either going home too early, or into a nursing home. A patient can recover in a private hospital room setting, receiving care, therapies, and discharge planning services to make certain that the patient is taken well care of in their home community while in recovery.

“Swing bed patients aren’t ill,” said Anderson. “They’re in recovery and rehabilitation, and stay here for therapy or for safe keeping until their families can take them home, or find the nursing home placement that meets the family needs, and these stays can be for extended periods of time because there is no length of stay restriction for any hospital swing bed patient.”

It’s that extra time healing, recovering, that’s so important. The longer the patient can stay, the better the outcome. “If they’re participating in activities, they’re eating, said Anderson. “And if they’re eating, they’re healing. It all works together, as do we, often forming close bonds with patients and their families. It’s one of the advantages of working in a small community hospital.”

For more information on taking advantage of a swing bed stay and skilled nursing care during recovery, call CHI Mercy Hospital, 701-845-6400.