Long Term Acute Care (LTAC) Hospitals

ltacMy wife, Nurse Stacey, actually works at a LTAC, so we probably need to explain what a long term acute care facility is, what types of treatments they do, what the typical patients are like, the staffing needs, and whether it is a good career possibility for certain people.

What is a LTAC? As the name implies, a LTAC is for long term treatment of certain patients with acute problems. Most of the patients will need to be treated for a month to 3 months (long term), and they have medical issues that can not be dealt with at home or a nursing home. The patients are basically too sick to be sent back home, and the treatments they need require more time than what is normally dealt with at a hospital. A long term acute care facility is a specialty hospital.

The types of treatments given at a LTAC varies widely. Many of them are there for wound care treatment (such as pressure ulcers)) that requires specialized services from people like wound care nurses. Others are there because of breathing problems which requires respiratory therapy. Some of these patients need to be weaned off of a vent, or to have other procedures performed. Many patients are there because they have serious bacterial infections that require the use of highly focused antibiotics such as Vancomycin (the typical antibiotic for MRSA treatment). In short, the treatments given at a LTAC just depends upon the diagnosis of the patient, but they all involve highly skilled personnel who are trained for treating these ailments.

What are the typical patients like at a long term acute care hospital? Out of 100 patients, roughly 50% or more of them are senior citizens, and the other half are adults age 18-54. Unlike a nursing home, patients of all ages are treated at a LTAC. While a minority, many LTAC patients are paralyzed, as paralyzed patients are more apt to develop bed sores which requires intensive treatments. The patients are very varied and come from all walks of life.

What are the staffing needs at a long term acute care facility? At most LTAC’s you will find the same personnel that are working at most hospitals. There are registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, case managers, social workers, nurse liasons, occupational and speech therapists, ward clerks, dieticians, doctors, administration, receptionists, maintenance, cooks, security (if you’re lucky), and a host of others that help to make the hospital function. Depending on the number of beds and patients, you could have as few as 3 people working on a night shift, or as many as 40 or more on a busy LTAC day shift.

Is working at a LTAC a good career for nurses and other healthcare workers? It could be. Like any job, it usually comes down to the people that you are working with/for. If you are interested in working at this type of facility you will need a very strong stomach to deal with the sights and smells from the wounds, and you will also likely need to be a multitasking type of person to deal with the wide variety of treatments and patients.

If you have any questions about working at a LTAC, feel free to leave a question in the comment box below. If I can’t answer you, I will talk my wife into helping. Thank you for reading!

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George Tall

Author at Hug Your Nurse
George Tall works in the legal field, is a father of three, and a husband of a RN for 25 years. He enjoys writing about everything, especially nursing! He has been writing for a living, at least partially, since around 2000. As an author on dozens of websites, he enjoys being factual, while spinning a bit of humor where possible.
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