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Frequently Asked Questions


Learn more about our Sub-Acute Unit by exploring the frequently asked questions and answers below.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Sub-Acute Care Unit

What are the criteria for sub-acute level of care?

  • Generally speaking, a patient requires a tracheostomy and a feeding tube (PEG).
  • There are some commercial health plans that have other criteria and we work with those on a case by case basis.
  • As an adult program, patients must be 18 year of age or older

Why would I want to be a patient / resident at St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital’s Sub-Acute Unit?

  • We have a very experienced and dedicated healthcare team. Many of our nursing staff members have been here for 20 years.
  • We are a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services quality 5-star facility.

Who pays for sub-acute care?

  • St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital has a contract with a variety of commercial health plans and HMOs. Your coverage for sub-acute care depends on the benefits you or your employer has purchased.
  • Additionally, we accept Medicare and Medi-Cal.
  • Since most plans, including Medicare, have limited coverage, we generally require that an application for Medi-Cal be implemented as soon as possible if it appears the stay will exceed a very short term.

I don’t think I qualify for Medi-Cal. How can I pay for the care when my spouse needs money to take care of our house and stay in the community?

  • There are organizations and attorneys who specialize in helping people who would not ordinarily qualify. Your household attorney will not usually have this expertise.
  • If you apply for Medi-Cal, be sure to specify that it is for Long Term Care Medi-Cal.
  • Talk with the Sub-Acute Unit clinical liaison if you have questions regarding this.

How do I make arrangements to transfer to the Sub-Acute Unit?

  • The case management or social work staff at the acute hospital will coordinate with the patient’s physician and the Sub-Acute clinical liaison to arrange the transfer.
My problem is mainly a respiratory one. Do you have licensed respiratory therapists?
  • We have both Registered Respiratory Therapists and Certified Respiratory Therapists 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
My doctor isn’t on staff at St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital. Who will take care of me?
  • It is the practice of St. John’s Sub-acute unit to accept all patients for services that we are licensed to provide. State and federal law require that sub-acute patients be admitted by a physician; the sub-acute unit is  not permitted to accept a patient who does not have a physician attending them. When a patient or family is unable to find a physician who is willing or able to admit the patient, we are committed to helping the family connect with physicians from a large network of providers in our service area.
  • St. John’s Hospitals strives to meet the needs of each and every patient, and will work with patients and their family members in a compassionate and caring manner.
How often will I see my doctor?
  • In the sub-acute level of care, patients are generally considered to be stable. Therefore, doctors do not round on the patients once or twice per day as you may have seen in other units at St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital.
  • Generally, the pulmonary doctor and the Sub-Acute medical director will round approximately once per week and as needed. The nursing staff is in frequent communication with the doctors regarding patient status and needs.
What happens if something goes wrong that you can’t handle in the Sub-Acute Unit?
  • We have the benefit of being located on the same campus as St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital, which features acute care access and emergency services.
  • Should we have an emergent medical situation we are not able to handle, we will take you down the hall to the emergency department.
Will I get therapy?
  • We offer physical, occupational and speech therapy. 
  • If appropriate, the doctor will order a therapy evaluation and treatment. A patient needs to be capable of participating with therapy and show progress. 
  • If you initially receive therapy, then at some point no longer qualify to continue, the therapists will present a plan with recommendations for follow-up activities to be provided by the nursing staff (such as range of motion exercise).
  • If, upon the initial assessment, you are not able to participate with therapy, the nursing staff will provide range of motion activities to prevent contractures.

Are there any activities to keep me occupied?

  • We have an activities services coordinator and several assistants who work with you to individualize a plan of activities based on your capabilities.
  • We have a calendar of activities posted in the unit and the activities vary from listening to live music or watching movies to playing Wii® or just relaxing with sensory stimulation and pet therapy.
  • We also offer religious services and chaplain visits if desired.
  • Additionally, families may want to arrange activities offsite. Our social worker can assist you in making arrangements to assure the occasion is a safe event.

What if I no longer need a tracheostomy?

  • When the tracheostomy tube is removed, the doctors may want a few days to ensure you are stable without it. 
  • Meanwhile, when it is known that this is the planned outcome, our case manager will work with you and your family to plan the next steps in your health care plan.
  • Following sub-acute care, some options may include going home with home health, to a skilled nursing facility, or to an acute rehabilitation facility.

Will someone help me transfer to another facility / skilled nursing facility?

  • As stated above, our case manager will work with you and your family to coordinate the follow-up care you require.

For information regarding our Sub-Acute Unit, please contact our clinical liaison at 805.389.5956. Please fax referrals to 805.389.5951.