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Swing Bed Program

To serve the needs of smaller hospitals and communities, "swing bed" is the term Medicare uses to describe a hospital room that can switch from acute care status to skilled care status. The actual bed or room does not usually change; what changes is the level of care the patient in that room receives.

SoutheastHEALTH offers a Medicare Swing Bed Program as an alternative to prolonged acute hospitalization or short term nursing facility placement for post-acute extended care. The Swing Bed Program provides skilled nursing care and rehabilitation services, which may include IV therapy as well as physical, occupational or speech therapy.

Common Diagnoses

Common diagnoses treated in this program include patients with extended IV therapy needs, orthopedic surgeries (hip or knee replacements), fractures, postsurgical procedures, neurological disorders (stroke), and generalized weakness due to congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, and other chronic conditions.

Length of Stay

The length of stay in the Swing Bed Program depends on the individual patient needs and progress. The average length of stay is five to seven days. Medicare will cover up to 20 days at 100%, if the patient has a skilled need. It is very important to understand that swing bed care requires the use of the Medicare patient's skilled nursing facility benefit. The Swing Bed Program is not intended for permanent placement; it is for continued care until the patient returns home or transfers to a facility for longer-term care.

Patients are discharged from swing bed services when:

  • They have achieved the maximum benefit of skilled nursing or rehabilitation, as determined by the physician.
  • The care being provided has become custodial in nature.
  • The patient's continuing care requires long-term rehabilitation placement.
  • There is a change in the patient's needs or level of care changes.

Qualifications

To qualify for the Swing Bed Program, a patient must meet the following requirements:

  • Be covered by Medicare Part A
  • Have had three overnights in an acute care bed prior to swing bed services
  • Have an ongoing diagnosis and needs that require skilled care as defined by Medicare

*Some private insurance plans cover swing bed services; your discharge planning nurse can help you verify benefits if necessary.