What is the difference between an LTACH and LTC?

\"LTACHThe alphabet soup of abbreviations in today’s healthcare landscape is confusing. When it comes to LTC verses LTACH, two little letters make such a huge difference. How could two similar acronyms represent two totally different types of health care? It is important to understand the differences between these two levels of care when making healthcare decisions.

Long Term Acute Care Hospital (LTACH) versus Long Term Care (LTC)

Long Term Acute Care Hospital

LTACHs provide care for patients with multiple serious medical conditions requiring a longer stay than encouraged in traditional hospitals. LTACHs help to facilitate prompt discharge of clinically complex patients. Patients receive extended periods of care in the LTACH before they are well enough to return home or go to rehab.

LTACHs are certified acute care hospitals. The average length of stay must be 25 days or greater and there must be a need for intensive medical care. A broad range of admission criteria exists with the most common being mechanical ventilation weaning, intravenous antibiotics and complex wound care. LTACHs are held to the same accreditation and regulatory standards as traditional hospitals. A wide range of clinically complex services are offered.

Long Term Care

Long Term Care is typically thought of as custodial care. It is appropriate for patients when they have reached their greatest potential after experiencing an acute illness. The patient still requires assistance to perform self-care and Activities of Daily Living (ADL) even after attending intensive therapy. ADLs are tasks such as grooming, eating, using the bathroom and dressing.

Long Term Care placement is not granted lightly. Patients requiring long term care must meet stringent criteria before placement is considered. Proof of medical necessity is required verifying care cannot be delivered safely and cost effectively in another setting. Long Term Care is 24-hour care providing such services as nursing care, medical oversight, meals, restorative therapies, and social services. Physical, occupational and speech therapy is available as needed when a decline is noted in physical function.

Few people are admitted directly to Long Term Care. Usually an acute illness or accident occurs. The person is hospitalized for acute care and then requires rehabilitation to be strong enough to go home. They are admitted to a subacute facility for rehabilitation and then transition over to Long Term Care if they cannot safely return home.

Differences Summarized:

Long Term Acute Care Hospital

Long Term Care

●      Acute Care

●      Return to wellness

●      Medicare Part A

●      Private Insurance

●      25 day average length of stay

●      Discharge to Home or a skilled nursing facility.

●      Custodial Care

●      Maintain current level

●      Medicaid

●      Long Term Care Insurance

●      Indefinite length of stay

●      Long term placement

Long Term Acute Care Hospitals were created to serve a once underserved segment of the patient population. This option allows patients meeting the criteria an extended period of time to recover to their highest functional level. LTACHs provide comparable levels of care to traditional hospitals, and at Specialty Hospital of Central Jersey, care is delivered with a team approach. Our goal is to achieve the patient’s goals over a longer course of time. Please contact us at Specialty Hospital of Central Jersey by calling 732.942.3592.   We are conveniently located at 600 River Avenue in Lakewood, New Jersey.

To learn more about the LTACH level of care and how it compares to LTC, click the button below to see our infographic.


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