PRINCETON, NJ - Elderly people living in 26 rural communities in five states may have a better chance of finding long-term care close to home because of grants totalling $2.3 million from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The hospitals receiving funds- all less than 50 beds in size - each will make available three to 1 2 beds under what is called the "swing-bed" concept. Under this approach. hospitals can shift the care offered in these beds from short-term services foracutely ill people to long-term care for chronically ill elderly patients and back again depending upon patient need.
The grants range from $64,000 to $176,000 for two years and successful projects will be considered for an additional two years of support.
Each project varies but, generally, the funds will be used by the hospitals to support a nurse who will direct the program and other such nurses and professionals as social workers, physical therapists, and occupational therapists - all with training necessary to care for the longterm patient and his or her family. Funds also will be used to retrain existing hospital staff and community volunteers.
The cost of the care provided will be met largely by Medicare and Medicaid, the two principal government programs paying for health services for the elderly. Recently approved federal regulations enable all hospitals with less than 50 beds to seek payment from these programs for providing long-term care.