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Swing Beds

What are swing beds?

Swing beds do not refer to actual beds but instead refer to a service that allows certain small, rural hospitals or critical access hospitals (CAHs) to use their beds to provide patients with either acute care or skilled nursing care within the same facility.

The name refers to the flexibility of these beds, where patients can “swing” or transition from acute care into skilled care, depending on the patient’s needs.

The Social Security Act created the swing bed program, and The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) regulate the program.

Why are swing beds important in healthcare?

Swing beds play an important part in the continuity of care and can help to reduce readmissions and overall costs by providing a transition between acute and long-term care.

Additionally, swing beds help patients receive care in their community as they won’t need to be transferred to a skilled nursing facility, which may be outside their local community, particularly in rural areas.

Finally, swing beds provide financial support to rural hospitals. With the creation of the swing bed program, hospitals could fill their empty acute care beds as well as be reimbursed for the skilled nursing care they could provide.