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Westchester short-term rehab displaying a woman recovering with the help of a physical therapist.

After Hospitalization, Sub-Acute Care is Essential

What if you have been hospitalized for an extended period of time due to surgery, an illness or injury and are ready to be discharged, but are not fully recovered. Now what? 

Increasingly, surgeons, physicians, and rehabilitation experts are recommending you a stay in a sub-acute care facility. Why? Sub-acute care post-hospitalization is recognized as an important step in the journey to recovery. Not only does it promote healing and self-care once a patient can safely return home, it also helps prevent hospital readmissions.

Long-term hospitalization can be especially challenging for older adults. According to Kelsey Treveloni, DPT, a physical therapist at United Hebrew’s short-term rehabilitation unit, “Older adults are usually considered at risk of falls when they are hospitalized based on their age, medications they may be taking, or having a previous history of falls. As a result, they are essentially immobilized for a long period of time which can cause functional decline.” 

Sub-acute care serves as an important bridge between a hospital stay and the return to home. For older adults, it helps them regain function and mobility to prevent a fall or injury going forward. 

Since the terms “sub-acute” and “acute care” are still gaining awareness, many patients and family members are unsure of the level of care they need after they’ve been discharged from the hospital.

“We find that there’s a lot of confusion about what’s better—sub-acute or acute care,” explains Treveloni. “With acute care, the therapy regimen is typically three hours every day, versus two 45-minute therapy blocks in sub-acute care with rest periods in between.” So, while  a “more is better” mentality might lead some to assume that acute care is the best route, that is not the case for older adults. “Sub-acute care offers the same quality of therapy, but the different frequency helps older adults tolerate the therapy better, which is very important in recovery,” says Treveloni.

To find the right sub-acute care, it’s important to look for a facility that’s known for its rehabilitation services, and that employs its own full-time therapists. “Some facilities contract with therapists, or have per diem staff. But having a dedicated team offers continuity that’s essential for high quality care. Since we employ full-time therapists, we know our residents well and their the whole plan of care. In addition, our therapists are trained by Burke Rehabilitation Hospital,” notes Trevloni, who earned a doctor of physical therapy at Sacred Heart University prior to training at Burke. “So, not only are we skilled in dealing with an elderly population, we have the expertise that comes from being trained at a world-class facility.” 

In addition to staffing, key industry rankings, such as a 5-Star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and “High Performing” status from U.S. News & World Report, are important indicators of a facility’s quality. It’s also important to ask around for recommendations. “Word of mouth can be very useful in helping you find a facility you can trust,” says Treveloni. 

For more information on sub-acute care or short-term rehabilitation, feel free to reach out to our experts at United Hebrew. “The choice for sub-acute care or short-term rehabilitation is usually one that’s made quickly, due to an unforeseen hospitalization,” notes Treveloni. “So doing your homework now to understand your best options for quality care, close to home, is important.”