The NY Times reports about long-term acute care hospitals, which many people are unaware of.
Propped up in a hospital bed, a 75-year-old man with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, must make an agonizing decision. Should he keep struggling until the illness inevitably kills him, dependent on a ventilator, unable to walk or eat or move? Or should he choose a day and a time to have the ventilator disconnected, and die?
The man, who asked not to be identified to protect his privacy, was a patient at the Hospital for Special Care here, one of 400 long-term acute care hospitals in the United States. These are no ordinary hospitals: Critically ill patients, sometimes unresponsive or in comas, may live here for months, even years, sustained by respirators and feeding tubes. Some, especially those recovering from accidents, eventually will leave. Others will be here for the rest of their lives.