Swing Beds

What is a Swing Bed?

Skilled nursing facilities (SNF) bridge the gap between an acute care hospital stay, with a more intense level of patient care, and discharge back to independent living.  Such facilities can provide short-term care for patients who have undergone procedures with a longer recovery time, such as heart attacks, orthopedic surgery, stroke, and sepsis.

However, smaller hospitals in rural communities may not have the ability to easily transfer their acute care patients to a skilled nursing facility. Such patients may still need assistance, rehabilitation, and care before returning home. Swing beds address this need.

As permitted by the Social Security Act, swing bed hospital designation allows small, rural hospitals and Critical Access hospitals, participating under a Medicare provider agreement, to provide a patient both acute care and SNF care.  

Swing Bed Directory

Locate a Swing Bed Hosptal in Kentucky

What Are the Benefits of Swing Beds?

Under the swing bed program, rural patients can receive high-quality post-acute care without leaving their initial hospital. Without swing beds, post-acute care patients may have to be moved to a hospital in another community, away from family. Patients also benefit from the expertise of the acute care hospital staff, who often continue to assist them when their initial hospital stay switches to a swing bed stay.

At the same time, rural Critical Access hospitals can utilize beds for both acute and post-acute care, ensuring that beds are not left empty, helping rural hospitals remain profitable and able to provide a high level of service.

Which Patients Are Eligible to Stay at a Swing Bed Hospital?

Patients are eligible for swing bed services if their inpatient hospital stay is at least three days, and meet qualifying medical criteria. This criteria includes daily therapy and/or rehabilitation, intravenous (IV) therapy, specialized wound care, and pain management. Patients must also be enrolled in Medicare Part A, or other insurance plan that covers swing bed care costs.

What Services and Procedures are Offered by Swing Bed Hospitals?

Examples of skilled nursing care services available at swing bed hospitals in Kentucky include:

  • Mental health services (substance abuse, dementia, patients with suicidal ideation)
  • Physical, speech, and occupational therapy
  • Respiratory care (ventilators, tracheostomy insertion and maintenance)
  • Feeding tubes
  • Blood transfusions (hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and non-dialysis)
  • PICC line insertion and maintenance
  • Wound care (including stage III and IV)

In some situations, services available are determined on a case-by-case basis, so please contact the designated person at the facility to ensure bed and service availability.

How Long Can Patients Stay at a Swing Bed Hospital?

A swing bed hospital is not meant to be used for permanent placement of a patient. Policies at swing bed hospitals can vary regarding the length of time a patient can stay. The majority of patients only stay at a swing bed hospital for 2 – 3 weeks.

Medicare will cover 100% of costs for up to 20 days at a swing bed facility, and up to 100 days with a co-payment. However, after 5 weeks, transfer to a long-term care hospital or home care are often considered.